"I expected more," said a small boy sitting behind me, as the credits rolled at the public preview screening of Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween. This lacklustre sequel to the 2015 hit Goosebumps hardly has enough jokes to qualify as a comedy, which leaves it stranded in the netherworld of near-horror, aimed at children supposedly not yet ready for the real thing.
As in the first Goosebumps film, the main representative of evil is the charmless series mascot Slappy (voiced by Mick Wingert), a sneering ventriloquist's dummy in a natty charcoal suit. Slappy springs to life over Halloween to the mild surprise of Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor), his older sister Sarah (Madison Iseman) and his best friend Sam (Caleel Harris). Slappy insists on his place in the family and imposes his will on Sonny and Sarah's mum (Wendi McLendon-Covey) in the film's most genuinely disturbing image. The climax pits the young heroes against an army of menacing but non-lethal Halloween decorations such as Jack-O'-lanterns and glow-in-the-dark witches.
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