Parents need to know that Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween is a sometimes scary but frequently funny adventure for tweens and up based on R.L. Stine’s same-named book series. Definitely more creepy than terrifying (and a little milder than the first movie), the bulk of the movie’s frights stem from the idea of the Halloween decorations in stores and lawns coming to life. That means ghosts, witches, monsters, and a house-size spider made of balloons go into motion and terrorize a neighborhood. If that sounds kind of funny, it is; the humor and ridiculousness minimize the fright factor.
That said, the villain — a menacing, weathered ventriloquist dummy that just won’t die — is genuinely creepy in a way that could linger with younger kids. But most of the rest of the content is very mild: There’s no substance use, language tops out at “jerk” and “shut up,” and nothing beyond kissing and flirting is shown. Really, a bully getting pantsed and a jack-o’-lantern spitting seeds like a machine gun is as iffy as it gets. Plus, the movie has a diverse cast and a clear teamwork theme, and it taps into relatable situations for kids: squabbling with siblings, treasure hunting with friends, struggling over school assignments, interacting with friendly but quirky neighbors, and dealing with bullies. It may be a hand-clencher in the theater, but it’s the kind that lets kids rest easy as soon as the credits roll.