New kids, same sense of fun in the sequel to 2015's kiddie horror hit
In "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween," a couple of kids find themselves under attack by an army of Halloween decorations, costumes and candy.
"We are living a 'Goosebumps' story right now?" one of them asks, half-spooked but half-excited, just as any fan of the hugely popular series of books would be.
"Goosebumps 2" is a slapdash sequel to the 2015 hit, picking up with a new group of kids but carrying over the same sense of Halloween fun and mischief as the original.
Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Sam (Caleel Harris) are two middle school outcasts in the town of Wardenclyffe with a fledgling rummaging business. While cleaning out a creepy old mansion they come across an unfinished manuscript from R.L. Stine that brings to life Slappy, the back-talking ventriloquist's dummy with the game show host grin from the first "Goosebumps" film.
Slappy uses his magical powers to unleash all manner of Halloween heck — this is a family film, after all — on Wardenclyffe. Soon gummy bears are attacking, and monsters are running loose in the streets.
Jack Black reprises his role as Stine from the first film; it's unclear if he also voices Slappy, but it sure sounds like him. Along with his role in the current "The House With a Clock in its Walls," Black has the market cornered on kiddie horror.
"Haunted Halloween" is livelier and more clever than "House With a Clock in its Walls" and more savvy in the way it plays with its source material.
Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ken Jeong and Chris Parnell provide just enough laughs to keep adults entertained while various manners of weirdness unfold. "Kids falling from the sky?" Black-as-Stein asks, as a teen drops from thin air. "My work here is done." And "Goosebumps 2's" work is done, too.
'Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween'
Rated PG for scary creature action and images, some thematic elements, rude humor and language
Running time: 100 minutes