Mostly Ghostly 3: One Night in Doom House – Fun Three-quel (Review)

DVD cover for Mostly Ghostly 3

The third segment in a R.L. Stine franchise is good ghostly fun and feels a little like a kid’s version of Topper.  Although the two teenage ghosts in Mostly Ghostly 3: One Night in Doom House are not here to shakeup Max Doyle’s world.  This last sequel has all new cast members and boasts some familiar faces in supporting roles.

Max Doyle, played by Corey Fogelmanis,  (who looks remarkably like a younger Andrew Garfield) has two ghostly friends. Nicky (Blake Michael) and Tara (Olivia Ryan Stern) help Max with his magic tricks while he helps them to locate their missing parents. 

Cammie (Sophie Reynolds) is Max’s girlfriend who is in a dance competition.  They are, at the start of the film, the perfect couple. 

Max, Nicky and Tara have had dealings with a nasty spirit named Phears (Adam Tsekhman) whom they banished to the other realm. His uncle Morgo (Danny Trejo) is angry with Phears for letting the two teenaged ghosts and Max defeat him. 

Cammie needs money to enter a dance competition and Max holds a seance to make ticket money.  As part of the seance, the apparition of Tara and Nicky’s housekeeper;  Lulu turns up.

(On a sidenote, Morgan Fairchild plays Lulu and the performer still looks stunning and manages to make the most of a two second cameo.)

The housekeeper leaves a cryptic message about how to find the parents of the teen ghosts. Max decides to ask professional ghost hunter Simon Drake (Jamie Kennedy) for help. 

Directed by Ron Oliver, who also wrote the screenplay based on R.L. Stones’ book, the film is mostly good natured fun and not scary at all. Younger viewers may find Phears disturbing looking but not much else is too terribly frightening about this family film. 

The film also features  real-life husband and wife Peter DeLuise and Anne Marie DeLuise as Max’s parents John and Harriet Doyle.  Jaimie Kennedy is good value for money as the smarmy ghost hunter who is possessed by spirits. 

Mostly Ghostly 3: One Night in Doom House is, for some odd reason, rated ‘PG’ although there is really no violence, foul language or sexual situations in the film.  The ghostly goings on are also not scary by any stretch of the imagination.

Although really little kids might be freaked out by the ghost clown with long yellow teeth. This could explain the “parental guidance” guidelines.

Fogelmanis is brilliant as Max and he exudes that good natured assertion that all will be right if he just keeps trying. Kennedy makes the most of his role as ghost hunter and temporary villain.

Michael and Stern play their  ghosts with a hint of mischievousness and, again, a sense of good natured fun.  Reynolds manages to make Cammie the perfect match for Max.

The brilliant thing about this film is that the previous movies in the franchise do not have to be seen.  “Mostly Ghostly 3” can be enjoyed as a standalone production.

There is an air of Disney about this kid’s movie. It may have to do with the fact that four actors in the film have all done Disney projects. Over and above that little coincidence, however,  is the feeling of the film.

Mostly Ghostly 3: One Night in Doom House emits a Disney familial vibe.  Even Phears’s appearance, which could scare the younger audience members, is played for laughs.

Despite the ‘PG’ rating this 4 star film is one that can be enjoyed by the whole family.  The loss of one full star is down to the cheesy CG rats and other FX that fell just short of the mark.

“Mostly Ghostly 3” is streaming on Netflix at the moment.  This is a fun one with enough familiar faces to make it even more enjoyable.  Stop by and check this one out.

Goosebumps (2015): The Revenge of Slappy – Review

Jack Black is R L Stine in Goosebumps

With music by Danny Elfman, directed by Rob Letterman  (from a screenplay by Daniel Lemke based on a story by Scott Alexander and  Larry Kraszewski  influenced by  R L Stine’s books) ‘Goosebumps’ is great fun and a lovely homage to the man who has spellbound kids for years.  It is interesting to note that Tim Burton was originally slated to direct the film and one wonders how different his ode to Stine would have been. Darker most definitely and more black comedy along with a few legitimate scares.

It could have been nice.

This version, starring Jack BlackDylan MinnetteOdeya RushRyan LeeAmy Ryan and Jillian Bell is played strictly for laughs, self-referential gags and has been aimed at a younger audience. All these things together do not ruin the film’s amusement factor but the lack of any uneasiness or scares leaves out the impact of  even the television series. 

Released in the 1990s (The show ran from 1995 through 1998 and was a favorite of my daughter and me “back in the day.”) The series was based upon the stories of Stine and he was the creator.  There were episodes that were terrifying, funny, odd, and one was a grim black comedy that left the viewer uneasy for days after. (These were done so well that even adults – as I can attest – were instantly hooked.)

This 2015 film is more a funny, and loving, homage to the prolific author. Black is Stine a recluse who shuns his neighbors in Madison, Delaware and lives with his daughter Hannah (Rush) who is homeschooled. Zach (Minnette) and his mother Gale (Ryan) move in next door and Stine’s daughter is immediately attracted to the new guy in the neighborhood.

Stine warns Zach off and threatens dire things will happen if the boy does not leave them alone. Things escalate when Zach hears Hannah scream and calls the police. Stine convinces them everything is fine and later Zach talks Champ (Lee) into breaking into the house.

Once inside they inadvertently release a monster who creates havoc on the entire town. The kids decide they have to stop it. Unfortunately, even though they are successful another monster, Slappy the ventriloquist dummy,  is out and he wants revenge for being locked up.

The film follows Stine and the kids as they team up to defeat Slappy and his legion of monsters that he keeps releasing. (Black does the voice of the dummy.)

‘Goosebumps’ entertains and there are splendid moments. The scene with the garden gnomes in the kitchen is a brilliant nod to Black’s 2010 film ‘Gulliver’s Travels.’ Lee’s character can scream like a pre-teen girl and it is truly hysterical.   The ferris wheel stunt was a nod to the 1979 film ‘1941’, or not but that was where I first saw the gag.

Unfortunately there are things that clang.

The two police officers felt as though they had walked onto the wrong filmset.  A far too juvenile piece of comedy that felt flat and damned annoying. (Perhaps they were put in for the younger audience members?)

There were no scares at all, everything was set up for the laugh or the giggle. While Stine must have loved it, he did, after all, begin by writing jokes, it was a major disappointment that they did not put at least one uneasy moment in the film.

A final note of complaint is this (without giving anything away) Hannah was not a monster. (Watch the film and this will make sense. If you still do not get it email the site we will explain it to you.)

Overall, despite the small disappointment factors, ‘Goosebumps’ was a fun film to watch.  All that was missing was the popcorn and the fizzy. Slappy does come close to making the viewer uneasy but never quite makes it, he is villain and not a monster.

‘Goosebumps’ is a 4.5 out of 5 stars. This would have gotten a full five if it had just one good scare.  It is on Netflix at the moment and well worth the 103 minutes spent watching it.

Deep in the Darkness (2014): Goosebumps for Grownups Sort Of

Sean Patrick Harris in Deep in the Darkness
Deep in the Darkness, a 2014 film directed by Colin Theys (Dark Souls, Remains) has the feel of an R.L. Stine Goosebumps for grownups; a sort of adult version of the beloved scary stories for kids. It stars Sean Patrick Harris (Cruel Intentions, Save the Last Dance) as a doctor who moves to a small town in New Hampshire to get away from the big city and where he plans to expand his nuclear family.

Dean Stockwell plays his neighbor, Phil Deighton whose wife Rosie is “dying of cancer” and it is Phil’s job to welcome the new doctor and show him the ropes. The doctor soon learns that this quaint little burg has more to offer than an eight o’clock p.m. curfew, there are things that live in the woods and they rule the town.

In a lot of ways the ending of this little horror film is signposted from the very start. It does feel a little like the classic Goosebumps episode where the family move to a small town only to learn that they are the only people in it. Just as in that segment of the kid’s series, the protagonists of this film find that the entire town is against them. Goosebumps’ Welcome to the Dead House (Part 1 & 2) is probably about as scary as Deep in the Darkness and certainly leaves the viewer feeling very uneasy long after it finishes…Even adult viewers.

Deep in the Darkness is based on the Michael Laimo novel of the same name and Laimo also wrote the book Dead Souls, that was made into a 2012 film that was also directed by Theys. Dead Souls is another film that tries hard and has a good concept but fails overall to convince.

It has to be said that the best thing about Deep in the Darkness is Dean Stockwell; who proves that old child stars never lose their chops. Stockwell began working in the business as a baby and the 79 year-old actor still blows everyone else off the screen with ease.

Sean Patrick Harris does do a solid job as the man who opts to fight the dreadlocked creatures in the wood. Sadly, there are too many moments that require too much in the area of suspension of disbelief to allow the film to work. Kristen Bush who plays his wife Cristine was a brilliant casting choice as the two do have chemistry in the limited time they are allowed to have it.

The biggest disappointment is the young actor chosen to play their daughter. Cute enough to look at but Theys apparently could not connect with the youngster to get a good performance out of her. Wooden and unconvincing the child has only this credit and one can only hope that if she does work again it is for another director.

There are some suitably creepy moments, a couple of dream sequences, a goat in the shed, a woman who dies after trying to seduce Harris’s character in the local church and even the Isolates themselves are bit disturbing. Sadly the entire film fails to gel.

The plot is interesting enough but flags in the middle, as does the film, and moves at a snail’s pace to its conclusion. Watching this movie on Netflix it took maximum willpower not to fast forward past the dull bits. The score for the film is jarring and does not fit, it could well be that this is the death blow to the movie overall. The music is too much. Deep in the Darkness would have benefitted from a more subtle soundtrack without the crashingly loud movements meant to convey a scare or mood.

At the beginning of the film, Theys opts for very little mood music giving the viewer hope that this will be a hidden gem of a movie. Sadly, the music soon intrudes and along with its other problems the film sinks. Harris is given an arc that makes no real sense for his character. The same can be said for Kristen Bush’s Cristine; a loving wife in the beginning, halfway through she falls pregnant and turns into a sort of Stepford wife who then decides, on a whim it seems, to listen to hubby and escape from the town.

Deep in the Darkness could have been a brilliantly scary film but all the ingredients were mixed badly by the director and the end result is a disappointing mess. Steaming on Netflix at the moment, it may be worth watching just for Dean Stockwell but when his character departs one can safely turn it off and not miss a lot. Goosebumps is also streaming on Netflix…Watch the two part episode titled Welcome to the Dead House it really is better.

A 2.5 stars out of 5 for Deep in the Darkness and a deep sigh of disappointment…some of those dream sequences were truly disturbing.

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