Australian Council on Children and the Media

Goosebumps

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Not recommended under 8; parental guidance to 10 (Scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Goosebumps
  • a review of Goosebumps completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 17 January 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended
Children 8 - 10 Parental guidance recommended
Children 10 and over Suitable for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Goosebumps
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild scary scenes
Length 103 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) and his Mum Gale (Amy Ryan) move to Madison, Delaware, after the death of Zach’s father, so that Gale can take up the role of Assistant Vice-Principal at the local high school. Zach isn’t keen on the move but is soon intrigued by his strange neighbour known as Mr Shivers (Jack Black) and his friendly but mysterious daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush). Zach quickly learns that the neighbour’s property is out of bounds as is Hannah. Zach is convinced however, that Hannah is being tormented by her father so after an elaborate plot to get him out of the house, Zach creeps inside to check up on her. He takes along a new friend he’s made called Champ (Ryan Lee), commonly known as Chump.

The two discover that Hannah is unharmed but in the process discover a library full of locked books. It turns out that Shivers is the famous author R.L Stine and he keeps all of his books under lock and key for good reason. Zach manages to open one of them, unleashing the Abominable Snowman into the real world. Once this has happened, all of the books get opened, unleashing all of the monsters out into the community. The Abominable Snowman, a ventriloquist dummy called Slappy (who is very evil), giant insects, a werewolf, garden gnomes and zombies are let loose to destroy and rampage through the town. It’s up to Zach, Hannah, Champ and Stine to find a way to put a stop to it.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Horror; the Supernatural; Monsters; Death of a parent.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie but no blood or gore is shown including:

  • The Abominable Snowman falls through a window, smashing the glass.
  • The Abominable Snowman throws a vending machine through the ceiling, which nearly lands on the 3 teens.
  • Zach, Champ and Hannah hide behind a glass enclosure in an ice-skating rink. The Abominable Snowman bashes his head on the glass knocking himself out. He then gets up and smashes through the glass grabbing at the teens with his long claws.
  • Stine throws a brass object at the Abominable Snowman.
  • Garden gnomes are on the attack with knives and axes. One throws a knife at Zach, narrowly missing him. Then they all attack and try to strangle Zach.
  • Alien robots fire guns at the police, freezing them on the spot.
  • A dog attacks Zach’s Aunt Lorraine.
  • Cars are seen crashing, burning and upside down.
  • The Invisible Man attacks Champ, pushing his face into the car window.
  • A giant insect jumps on top of the car that Stine, Zach, Hannah and Champ are in and starts attacking it. It then chases the car down the street causing it to turn over.
  • A werewolf chases the teens and is quite vicious. The wolf gets hit by a car.
  • The monsters all attack the school where the annual dance is being held. They blast a hole in the wall and terrify all of the kids and teachers inside.
  • The werewolf corners a girl but Champ jumps on its back, biting it. The werewolf runs away.
  • Slammy breaks Stine’s fingers by trapping them inside his typewriter.
  • The monsters are lured to the school bus, where a bomb has been placed. It then explodes and the monsters all go flying.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are many scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  •  The monsters are all quite realistic through the use of CGI animation. The Abominable Snowman is very large with long claws and he continuously chases and attacks the teens. The werewolf is also very scary, quite large with long claws too and he growls and drools from the mouth.
  • R.L. Stine appears at first, a very scary intimidating man who threatens Zach to stay away from him and his daughter.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Children in this age group could still be disturbed by the visually scary monsters. The zombies coming out of their graves and following the trio, arms outstretched, are also quite scary.
  • Zach is obviously upset at the loss of his father and watches a video of them playing baseball.
  • Several scenes are meant to scare such as:
    • Hannah creeps up on Zach making him jump.
    • Zach goes carefully into Stine’s house, down a cellar, holding a torch. Champ comes up behind him, placing his hand on his shoulder, making him jump.
    • Lightening and thunderclaps accompany many of the scary scenes.
  • Zach thinks he sees Stine shouting and screaming at Hannah through a shadowy window.
  • A huge explosion occurs when Zach unlocks the first book. A whirlwind appears and the Abominable Snowman emerges from this. Another monkey and the Abominable Snowman scream at each other.
  • Slappy, the ventriloquist dummy is quite evil. He looks to be smiling but always plotting another disaster.
  • A cute poodle transforms into a nasty monster dog with fangs, elevates into the air and attacks Aunt Lorraine.
  • Stine and the teens are driving in a car when they are attacked by the Invisible Boy who leaves handprints on the windscreen.
  • Stine gets covered in a huge lava ball.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Some children in this age group could still be disturbed by the above-mentioned scary scenes.
  • Zach sees Hannah glowing in the moonlight and realises she is not a real person but another product of Stine’s imagination.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing further

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Coca Cola and Fanta

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Aunt Lorraine thinks Stine is sexy.
  • Champ is in love with a girl at school.
  • Zach and Hannah are attracted to each other.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is no nudity but light sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • The girl that Champ rescues from the werewolf kisses him on the lips quite passionately.
  • Zach and Hannah kiss.

Use of substances

  • None of concern

Coarse language

There is some mild coarse language in this movie, including:

  • That sucks; Shut up; Oh my God;

In a nutshell

Goosebumps is a light-hearted horror movie that kids who grew up with the much-loved Goosebumps books will relate to. The CGI monsters are really quite scary however, and could certainly frighten younger children. The movie is meant to be scary which therefore makes it more suitable for older kids and teens. 

The main messages from this movie are to try and solve problems and to overcome fears.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Courage
  • Bravery
  • Teamwork



This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • Stine talks about the fact that he was sickly as a young child and consequently bullied. He wrote his books to create monsters to help him have revenge on the world. Is this a good method to overcome bullying?

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