Hey! You dorks seen my girlfriend, Annabelle?
Goosebumps 2 has a lot less Jack Black than its predecessor—he ends up showing up in what is little more than an extended cameo—and his absence does not affect the general effectiveness of this junior-varsity horror flick. Adults who developed their horror palettes on JV ’80s horror like Monster Squad will recognize Goosebumps 2 for what it is: a gateway through which they can take their youngsters into the beloved nether genre.
Goosebumps 2 is a true horror movie, not simply a jokey horror pastiche deemed safe for children. Even before living dummy Slappy brings Halloween to life, he will terrify younger audiences not fully educated in the tropes of the horror genre. Adult guardians less intimidated by the “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”-level scares can ponder whether the main teens’ single mother is more humorously written or performed by Wendi McLendon-Covey. The only portion of Goosebumps 2’s target demographic left unhappy will be those whose sole reason for enjoying the first film was Black.