With Episode 8 of Goosebumps, the show continues to improve, leaning into adventure over horror for a dangerous chase through the snow.
Episode 8 of Goosebumps reinforces the principle that the series is most effective when the attention is focused on one central plot. In earlier episodes of the season, it would often get distracted from the promise of providing the audience goosebumps by drawn-out revelations, inflated backstories, and extraneous relationship drama. Last week’s episode was the most successful of the series because it didn’t away with all the fat, trapping the characters in one location and giving them an easily definable goal to achieve by the episode’s end. Episode 8 does the same, proving that perhaps Goosebumps has learned the correct lessons, and settled into a tone and mode of storytelling that fits comfortably.
Episode 8 is a rather small, contained episode. While the characters are in constant motion, not a whole lot actually happens until the last ten minutes. We are now two episodes away from the season finale, and Episode 8 felt like one of transition, getting all of the pieces together for the final move.
Nora (Rachael Harris), the mother of Lucas and dogged believer in the return of Harold Biddle, has been released from the hospital and escapes to a cabin in the stormy mountains, hoping to stop Biddle once and for all. Unfortunately, Mr. Bratt (Justin Long), once again possessed by Biddle, isn’t too far behind. Much of Episode 8 is made out of Nora racing through the mounds of snow and pine trees of the mountain range, with Mr. Bratt hot on her heels. As all of this is happening, our Scooby Gang of teenagers, now safely out of the alternate dimension, make their way to the cabin, hoping to find Nora.
Nora and Harold Biddle’s chase through the snow is mostly filmed in tight close-ups or medium shots. I assumed that the thinking behind this stylistic choice is to emphasize the emotions of the characters, allowing the audience to sit with Nora’s fear and Harold’s desperation. It does so at the expense of orienting the viewer to geography of the characters. Through the lack of wide shots one loses track of Nora and Harold’s spatial relationship to one another, and fails to alert the viewer to distant dangers from nature.
Still, despite the fumbles in the action, Episode 8 of Goosebumps is able to create something gripping. The show works very well when it leans into its adventure qualities, and not horror. I don’t imagine that young teens and kids watching Goosebumps will be scared during the episode, but they may tense up and grab at an armrest.
The jump in quality during the last two episodes of Goosebumps has been significant. Let’s hope that can be sustained to the season finale.
Episodes 8 of Goosebumps will be available to watch on Disney Plus from November 3, 2023.