Ridge Report Writing and Photography Contest

This year, you can submit a short story, poetry piece, and/or photography connecting to one of three possible themes. Your options are "Hush", "Bang", and "Click". Be as creative as you want!

Entries will be accepted starting Monday May 1st 2017

The deadline for entering is Friday May 20th 2017

First place winners in each category (short story, photography, and poetry) will have their entry published on the Ridge Report website and will be awarded a prize.

Click on each category to submit and know about the rules and requirements.

Short Story

Monday, October 26, 2015

Goosebumps Movie Review

It only took 23 years, but the Goosebumps series has finally found its way to the big screen. Luckily, the wait was worth it.

Granted, the Goosebumps novels aren't as easy to adapt as a movie as other book series, such as Harry Potter or the Hunger Games. For one thing, there are 62 novels in the original Goosebumps run, not to mention the countless spin offs and special edition novels. Also, these books don't form a continuous storyline or saga, instead opting for each individual 200 page novel to feature its own standalone story with a new set of protagonists and monstrous villains each time. Basically, there are too many novels to be able to adapt all of them, and each story too short to hold its own movie. But the director Rob Letterman and the screenwriters took an unconventional approach to adapting the series by making a single movie featuring all 62 novels.

Chaos unfolds as the monsters are released from the books
In the film, Jack Black plays a fictionalized version of R.L. Stine, whose monstrous creations are very real and are locked up inside the Goosebumps manuscripts. However, when the new neighbor's teenage son, Zach, befriends Stine's daughter, Hannah, Zach and his friend Champ accidentally unlock a book and start a chain reaction that results in every single monster from the Goosebumps books being unleashed on the town. What follows is a thrilling, self aware adventure that draws on all the books, as well as telling it's own unique, epic story.

The heroes of the movie
 The movie is led by the trio of young actors, Dylan Minette (who plays Zach Cooper), Odeya Rush (who plays Hannah Stine), and Ryan Lee (who plays Champ). After watching the trailers, I walked into the movie, fully expecting to have to endure whiny, annoying, insufferable young actors, but I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the actors were very able leads, bringing an earnest charm to the roles that makes the viewer actually care about their fate. But while these three were the main protagonists, the story hinges on Jack Black's R.L Stine. Jack Black definitely plays the role to his best. In the initial scenes, he's aptly sinister and cranky, but as the film progresses, Stine's character opens up and becomes very sympathetic, providing a flawed, engaging character who contrasts nicely with the fresh brightness the main trio provide. Together, these four provide heart and some real emotional depth to the movie.

Slappy assembles all the monsters 
But of course, nobody came to the movie to see the human characters, as surprisingly enjoyable as they were. No, the real treat was the monsters. Like I said in the synopsis, every monster from the series was featured in this movie, so it was a real joy to see the demons that filled our childhood imaginations all brought together in one place. With over 50 monsters, the movie could have been easily crowded, but the film smartly chose to feature a few main ones prominently and allowed the other fan favorites to be seen in the wide, sweeping shots of all the monsters assembled together. This really helped make the viewing experience more enjoyable, as members of the audience would search the background of the movie to discover some more hidden monsters, with every glimpse injecting a fresh dose of nostalgia. But you don't have to have read the books to enjoy the monsters, as the ones chosen to be at the forefront were very entertaining to watch, ranging from the giant praying mantis to the Werewolf of Fever Swamp. The main villain, however, is Slappy the ventriloquist dummy (voiced by Jack Black), who definitely steals the show with his perfect blend of psychotic creepiness and dark humor.

Ultimately, the movie is a very enjoyable experience. It faithfully draws upon the spirit of the original novels, but is still accessible to a casual audience who haven't read the books, as it tells its own story in a highly entertaining romp. It's not an award winning masterpiece, but it's destined to become a Halloween classic that will endure the test of time and become a nostalgic endeavor much like the books that inspired it.

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