Where to begin? Even at a somewhat short running time of only one hour and forty minutes, this film was a struggle to get through. The sequel to a not too shabby first feature, this film failed to cash in on the nineties nostalgia that was gifted to it by the Goosebumps books and television series.
Initially, I was thrilled and terrified to see the return of Slappy the Ventriloquist dummy as he was the source of many genuine nightmares for me following his television debut back in 1999. This quickly disintegrated into boredom (and yet more boredom) once he did eventually make his first film appearance.
The premise of the film was weak; two middle schoolers, Sonny and Sam, along with Sonny’s sister Sarah, save the town in the wake of Slappy’s vengeful quest for a ‘Halloween family’ — the only actual reference to Halloween in the whole film. Weaker still were the particularly poor puns that were more frequent than actual plot points. Even the comedic styling of SNL’s Wendi McLendon-Covey as Sonny and Sarah’s mother struggled to overcome the terrible script and storyline.
The kids seemed relatively unphased by the ‘horrors’ of Slappy’s retribution unfolding around them. On the one hand, this could be an ode to the unphasable nature of generation Y who’ve had Wi-Fi access since they were in the womb. More likely, however, this lack of reaction was probably down to a sheer lack of acting ability. A similar struggle could be seen in the performances of potentially the least threatening schoolyard bullies of all time.
An awkward cameo from Jack Black reprising his role as R.L Stine did not help matters. His fleeting and unnecessary appearance exuded a strong sense that he was just there to fulfil a contractual obligation his lawyers were unable to get him out of.
Admittedly, this film is aimed at kids, but I can confidently assume that even the sugar high, following a week-long ‘trick or treating’ session, would fail to help them see past the shoddy script, senseless storyline, and relatively naff special effects.