Film Review: ‘Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween’

“Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” is a movie out of the “Just throw enough visual bric-a-brac at them!” school of proudly arrested kiddie entertainment. It’s like “Night at the Museum” remade as an overly caffeinated pop-up spook show. The story, what there is of it, is innocuous — it hinges on a teenage brother and sister, Internet-and-video-game geek Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and feisty romantic Sarah (Madison Iseman), each dealing with a problem (he’s fending off a bully out of the Nickelodeon Junior version of “Stand by Me”; she sneaks into a nightclub and spies her boyfriend kissing another girl).

But that’s all just a way of killing time before Sonny and his buddy, Sam (Caleel Harris), meet Slappy, the mischievous talking ventriloquist dummy from the first “Goosebumps.” That movie, a jumbled riff on several of R.L. Stine’s children’s horror novels (there are literally hundreds of them, which is one reason why it’s the second-best-selling book series in history), came out three years ago and grossed $80 million. So who’s going to mess with a formula that seems to work more than not?