Trailer Reactions

Trailer Reaction: “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween”

Back in 2015 the popular childrens horror novel series “Goosebumps” got the cinematic treatment with Jack Black in the role of famed author R.L. Stine as well as one of the author’s most famous characters, Slappy the dummy. The film was a modest box office success earning $150 million on an $84 million budget warranting a sequel. Now that sequel is arriving in 2018 although this second film looks to be a bit different than the first, seemingly ditching Stine as an actually character as a new group of youngsters take on the living incarnations of the author’s popular monsters. The first teaser trailer doesn’t show us a whole lot, but it shows us enough. Let’s dive in and pick apart the details in the first trailer for “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween”. As always you can view the trailer in fill at the end of the breakdown.

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The trailer starts in rather odd fashion reminding us that the film is based on the works of R.L. Stine using a Halloween appropriate orange lettering. We are reminded of his success as an author with 62 books to his record, which is actually important information for the viewer to know considering it looks like this sequel will feature even more of those creatures than the previous film. We then get a quick flashback of sorts to a highlight moment from the first movie when the Abominable Snowman was released from his book kick-starting that film’s plot. It all seems to be a needless reminder of the first film almost like the filmmakers wanted to get you excited about the continuation of a movies that may have fallen into the back of your brain and been forgotten. Not a good start for a trailer, but it is made for a younger audience so it does probably make sense to remind them that there was a first one to see as well.

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After reminders of how cool the first movie was (kind of) we’re told that this October the legend will continue. We’re introduced to two new children named Sonny and Sam. Sonny is played by Jeremy Ray Taylor, an actor who many will know as an experienced horror veteran having played Ben Hanscom in last year’s much more adult friendly “It”. Sam is played by Caleel Harris who has bounced around several series and movies since 2010 and also has horror cred with productions like “Castle Rock”. Sam offers some exposition about it being Halloween as the two stop in front of a battered old house which is clearly not the same one as the first movie. We’ll come to find out this was a home once owned by R.L. Stine so it’s safe to say this movie takes place long after the author left the town which would justify his potential absence.

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The two boys wonder into the home after passing a few garden gnomes, a callback to the gnomes that came to life in the first movie and were featured in the “Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes” book. A name plate on the house designates it as Stine’s and given that he had his name on this home when the first movie presented him as in hiding it’s likely this was his permanent residence before he decided to go on the run. Sonny comes across a hidden door where the two boys find a chest containing a new manuscript that screen text tells us wasn’t meant to be found. The book is called “Haunted Halloween” and oddly enough has its key with it. As you would expect, the two boys are curious enough to open the locked book to see what’s inside

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After the book is opened we hear a familiar laugh and see a familiar face pop up beside Sonny as Slappy makes his grand entrance into the picture asking “did you miss me?” which is likely more for the audience than the characters because Sonny and Sam have obviously never met the puppet before. It’s actually pretty fitting that Slappy gets top billing as the villain in this second film because he was a massive part of the first movie as the one who brought the monsters together to take down their creator. Jack Black returns to voice Slappy so while he may or may not appear as the author R.L. Stine he is still a part of this film.

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We then see Slappy getting to work in a department store but it doesn’t appear he is using any books this time, which makes sense because Stine himself has all the other books with him. It seems Slappy has the ability to bring Halloween decorations to life. We first see him manifest a trio of witches in the store and a werewolf and abominable snowman come out of a Halloween mask display. Unlike in the first movie where Slappy needed to open books to gain followers this film seems to have endowed him with the ability to create his own monsters. Obviously R.L. Stine had to have written Slappy with this power in the book in order for this to be possible so it’s no surprise that the author decided to hide this book in the depths of his home, but why didn’t he bring it with him when he left? It might be a question gone unanswered for the sake of the film but I’d like to see that addressed if R.L. Stine does appear in this movie or a future sequel. Obviously, this book is more dangerous than any Stine had with him in the original movie so why leave this one where anyone can find it AND with the key to unlock it at that?

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We get a collection of scenes where the heroes, along with Sonny’s sister Sarah who is portrayed by Madison Iseman who played the real-world version of beauty queen Bethany in last year’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”, are fighting off an assortment of monsters including what appears to be a skeleton bride, the abominable snowman, an evil clown-like figure, a mummy, a living scarecrow with a jack o’ lantern head, and a werewolf  some of which are directly from Steins bibliography. We see Slappy exiting the store he was in earlier in the trailer with many more monsters following him out. Slappy has created an army bent on Halloween Armageddon. We see some Stein classics and some horror classics in general including, in this shot alone, some of the creatures I mentioned above as well as the Bride of Frankenstein, a swamp creature, a hunchback and a vampire. This is the glory shot of the trailer as it shows the stakes are much higher this time around. While the first movie presented us with a lot of monsters to enjoy, this movie doubles down going beyond the imagination of Stein to explore the classics of horror in general.

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The trailer closes with a pretty amusing moment between Sonny and Sarah as Sarah berates the boys for not telling her they found Slappy. Sonny responding saying “he seemed like a pretty nice guy at the start” which gives us a bit of insight I would think into how Slappy will present himself upon his introduction. If the two boys are not familiar with him, as I already said they shouldn’t be, then Slappy probably tries to charm them. Is it possible these two boys are tricked into helping the puppet get what he needs to put his evil scheme into motion? Are they the ones who bring him to the store where he finds the tools to create his army? Only time will tell.

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The final moments show us one of the more creative monsters of the film, a pack of menacing Gummy Bears. It’s another interesting note that this is the first monster we see in the trailer that isn’t based specifically on a Halloween decoration or Stein creation (I looked and found no books by the author with living candy so correct me if I’m wrong), but instead is based on candy one would get during the holiday. So, this implies that Slappy’s abilities aren’t specific to decorations. It’s more than likely whatever ability or tool he has that can make monsters can be used on anything he wishes which means there is no limit to the chaos he can create in this sequel.

So, what did you think of the first “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” trailer? Was there anything I missed? Let me now in the comments below. There is still a lot we have yet to learn about this new film especially the extent of Jack Black’s involvement. It’s been teased that Black will reprise his role as R.L. Stine and it’s hard to see why not because he does play Slappy so he took time out of his schedule to be part of the film. If Black is going to be seen ON SCREEN it wasn’t teased in the trailer and if Stine is absent from the film then it will be interesting to see how these kids solve the problem on their own without the help of the one man who knows how to win the war. “Goosebumps 2” is directed by Ari Sandel (director of “The DUFF”) and is set to be released just in time for its titular holiday on October 12, 2018.

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