After moving to a new town, teenager Zach becomes suspicious about his mysterious neighbor (played by Jack Black), fearing his neighbor is keeping a daughter locked up. After the police fail to help, Zach decides to sneak into his neighbor’s house and find the girl himself. Instead he finds a shelf full of manuscripts for Goosebumps books, and can’t resist opening one.
Turns out Zach’s neighbor is Goosebumps series author R.L. Stine, and his manuscripts are actually magical prisons for the many monsters he’s created for his books. When one of his creations, a particularly evil ventriloquist dummy, escapes his manuscript thanks to Zach, the dummy releases all the monsters, which then begin to take over the town, leaving Zach, R.L. Stine, his daughter, and another friend, scrambling to find a way to recapture Stine’s destructive creations and save the town.
While the film admittedly does not have much to say in terms of a theme or moral lesson, it’s a comedic adventure with a strong Halloween vibe that can be enjoyed together as a family. Familiarity of the Goosebumps series will help viewers recognize the various monsters, but is not required. The film is rated PG, but does include some crude humor, and of course some scary imagery.