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It is a bit strange to return back to Goosebumps after thirty years and you’ve grown up with the books and the ‘90s TV series. Now, one is in their thirties or forties and realizes that just about every book and episode is a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits rip-off, only with children replacing adults as protagonists. It’s not so scary anymore, and you remember only gimmicks — masks, dolls, clocks. However unless you have stagnated in life due to arrested development and an addiction to nostalgia then it’s kind of sad.

Though it does bring up some nice memories. Before mobile phones become portable enough (and internet fast enough) to be completely distracting for hours on end. If you know what Goosebumps are, it means that at one point you read them. How often do you read these days? How often does fiction or art actually scare rather than war politics and real life? You were there then with this book in that room, maybe that was nice.

The new series has to lean towards advantages and disadvantages of going back to square one on this franchise which tries its best for success by basing itself on teenage struggles as a characterizing theme of the show like most others do.It is not a show for little children anymore but rather young adults –a valuable demographic because of such franchises as The Hunger Games series as well as anticipated ones such as The Maze Runner Percy Jackson Riverdale Sex Education Euphoria etc.. Most times though this variation of Goosebumps seems like Degrassi Meets Wednesday by Rod Sterling.

Meaning that at first it’s a little cringe-y feeling made for kids between 12 -20 years old but going forward; it builds upon itself improving episode after episode. And what makes this show all the rage when we think beyond Justin Long’s great performance are two things: one is how anthology format is fused with a linear narrative; and two is how well it all fits together. Well paced, this clever tactic has produced memorable characters as well as a mix of new ideas. Although it remains very YA-like, it’s effective.

The new Goosebumps series takes place in generic small town America; it might be Twin Peaks, Midnight Mass or Northern Exposure. The thing is that almost everyone knows each other and,likewise,everyone has secrets. It is an outsider coming to town just like all the others who initiates the show. Here it’s Justin Long’s character: Mr.Bratt,the new English teacher.He got a great deal on the old Biddle house but doesn’t know what he signed up for because Harold Biddle, a little boy burned in that basement wants revenge.

However,the real protagonists are four or five high school kids. They feel like they’ve been designed almost cynically to fit types in a 2023 Breakfast Club sort of way but here young actors do a good job. Without knowing that Bratt came into town, they organize an epic Halloween bash at the Biddle house. Hearing about Harold’s ghost, every one of them interacts with some haunted artifact from his death (or murder?) while preparing for the party.

In fact, they are not really the show’s stars; high school students play this role only in part by comparison to its main cast members who number around ten people.As though cynically written to fit certain types almost like a 2023 Breakfast Club did but these young actors really pull it off.They throw an incredibly large Halloween party at Mr Bratt’s new home without realizing he moved there. As they prepare for the event each of them comes into contact with some cursed relic related to Harold’s demise (was he murdered as well?), and then gets haunted afterwards by him or her.

In fact, Goosebumps can be viewed as both an anthology series and a linear narrative. In one episode, the quarterback is plagued by Harold’s old Polaroid camera which takes photos of horrible things that are about to happen. In another episode, a girl uses a mask that she stole from the Biddle house to give herself confidence but it gradually starts taking over her body and mind. This take should sound familiar to 90s kids though.

Notably, creators Rob Letterman (who directed the 2015 feature film Goosebumps and Detective Pikachu) and Nicholas Stoller (who directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Neighbors, Bros) are quite intelligent guys as they incorporate several of the books into the TV show as mentioned earlier. Every single episode is based on an idea from one of the many Goosebump books but each of them is meant for a bigger picture; all this revolves around his death and haunted possessions in form of artifacts left behind by Harold BiddleThe storylines are broken up like this because generally fractured narratives work well in storytelling with characters coming together at some point that makes senseAs for storylines, they often involve moving back in time and exploring different characters’ Halloweens with one character in particular being followed in each outing.In essence though, it’s more interesting to see how everything else fits into the entire plot than just watch individual stories adapted so intelligently.

Also worth mentioning is that every actor gives it their best shot on set (poor Rob Huebel who’s hilarious in comedies such as Children’s Hospital but seems out of place here), Justin Long continues to prove why he’s THE scream king. He doesn’t have any major role except him being Zack Morris’ quarterback character Isaiah.The main character is Justin Long who portrays himself alternatively as an unassuming but fun teacher or even clumsily possessed host for vengeful ghost.Long does excellent physical comedy and nails typical dad roles with the same ease in a hilarious manner.He simply is spot on.

Although it begins as an almost embarrassingly predictable YA rehash, Goosebumps surprises quite a bit over time and becomes a very well made series. It still has its rough patches and isn’t particularly scary but if you are going to watch teens dealing with supernatural stuff, trust me; it could be worse. Who knows, if you are in your 30s or 40s as a parent this might just be the perfect show for you and your kids to watch together.

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