Disney’s “Goosebumps” was developed by “Goosebumps” film director Rob Letterman and “The Muppets” helmer Nicholas Stoller, both of whom are also acting as executive producers. For Letterman, it appears the show may represent his attempt to make a “Goosebumps” adaptation that’s simply more faithful to the spirit of Stine’s source material (again, no disrespect to the 2015 film; it’s a perfectly decent horror-comedy for kids taken on its own). The pair have even cast Justin Long, himself something of a modern “Scream King” thanks to his roles in films like “Drag Me to Hell,” “Tusk,” and “Barbarian.”
Already, the new “Goosebumps” series seems to have worked around the obstacles that tripped up previous adaptations. In the case of the ’90s TV show, the series would typically compress each of Stine’s stories into a roughly 22-minute episode, which was barely enough time for them to do proper justice to the original books. The 2015 film and its sequel, on the other hand, both involved multiple monsters from the books being set loose and wreaking havoc on the real world together. It’s a fun premise, but also one that you can only do so many times (really only once) before it gets tired.
Wisely, however, the Disney+ show is taking a different route that involves mixing and matching elements from the books (“Say Cheese and Die!” and “Night of the Living Dummy” are both referenced during its trailer) as part of an original story. It recalls Mike Flanagan’s approach to “The Haunting,” where each season honors the themes and spirit of their literary sources while telling a mostly brand-new spooky tale. If “Goosebumps” can do the same, Disney might just have a worthy addition to its streaming library.
“Goosebumps” hits Disney+ and Hulu on October 13, 2023.