This afternoon I popped along to the cinema to watch Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween – the follow-up to 2015’s Goosebumps. The movie is currently previewing in select UK cinemas, with a general release set for the back-end of next week.

I am a big fan of the original Goosebumps, believing it to be a real Halloween treat that could and should be enjoyed every year around this time. While I liked Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, I wasn’t as impressed with this sequel.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween isn’t a bad movie, in fact it is a whole heap of fun – the monsters are great, the actors work well and there are plenty of scares – but it doesn’t live up to the fun of the original movie and here’s why. While the cast do an admirable turn in the roles they are given, there’s someone missing and that someone is Jack Black.

In the original movie, Black took on the dual role of author R.L. Stine and the voice of Slappy, the ventriloquist dummy. This time around, Slappy is voiced by voice actor, Mick Wingert and Black’s role as Stine is reduced to little more than a quick cameo.

Black’s absence is felt a lot throughout the movie, specifically when it comes to an adult lead. Sure, the rest of the cast work fine, and the young actors at the centre of the film -Jeremy Ray Taylor, Madison Iseman and Caleel Harris – are all good, but without Black the story feels like it is missing its core.

Rather strangely, Ken Jeong – better known as Chow in the Hangover film series – is drafted in as one of the adult stars of the movie, yet he’s not in the story nearly enough to fill Black’s absence. This picture would have greatly benefited from giving Jeong more to do – especially since he is a likeable addition to the story.

Perhaps the real misstep with Haunted Halloween is that the film takes a little too long to get going. The first half of the movie is quite slow, so by the time the action really kicks in there’s a distinct feeling that half the potential of the movie has been wasted.

Such a shame, because the second half of the movie is good – especially when it comes to the monsters. The gummy bear monsters in particular are pretty neat.

This is also a pretty creepy movie for a PG (something I enjoyed), and there are a few scenes that will frighten some of the younger members of the audience. The ending in particular leaves a loose end that not only teases a third entry in this series, but also ensures that a few kids will be having sleepless nights.

Hey, I like scares – so sue me.

As mentioned above, I did like Haunted Halloween – even if it seems like I didn’t – I just think that things needed to be tighter. It doesn’t match up to the original and I believe this makes the film a one-time watch rather than an annual classic.

If you’re a fan of the original and Haunted Halloween interests you then give it a go, just don’t expect it to grab you in the same way Goosebumps did. Perhaps things will be tightened up for the third movie, should it happen.

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