Goosebumps Premiere Recap – Say Cheese and Die (101)

The new and reimagined Goosebump series has landed on Disney+—and millennials, this is the show you’ve been waiting for. 

Based solely on the first episode, the series marries the nostalgia of the stories from our childhood with a modern take that’s also welcoming to any newcomers diving into the franchise for the first time.

The thrill factor is definitely there, with jump scares and unnerving moments sprinkled throughout, driving it home that the core audience being targeted is ’90s babies who grew up checking out Goosebumps books at their local library. 

It’s not lost on me that the last time “Say Cheese and Die,” the 1992 book, was the focus of a TV episode, it was in 1996 and Ryan Gosling was a teenager, roughly the same age as the Port Lawrence teens are right now. Make ya feel old yet? It does, but it’s also quite refreshing that we can still watch a Disney show and feel like we’re not too old for it. 

The plot of the series follows the plot of the book in that Isaiah (Zack Morris) finds a camera in the haunted Biddle house while he’s throwing a Halloween rager. He snaps a few photos of his friends initially thinking nothing of it, but the next day, he’s made aware of the eeriness surrounding the photographs when the new English teacher, Nathan Bratt (Justin Long), who is also the new owner of the Biddle house, brings him his backpack. 

The photograph of his girlfriend Alison shows her lying in the woods—right after her creepy encounter with Biddle’s ghost, which is the moment when Isaiah came to find her. The second photo is of Margot, but it’s a moment that hasn’t happened yet. Isaiah heeds the picture warning, arriving in the nick of time as she’s having an allergic reaction to peanuts. The photograph predicted this moment, which sends Isaiah spiraling. 

He calls his friend James for help, who isn’t phased by his ramblings. James snaps a photo of Isaiah, which makes him the next target as the photo reveals a painful accident during that night’s football game, one that’s very important to him because scouts will be in attendance and he needs a scholarship. He decides to destroy the camera that he found in the Biddle basement by smashing it and lighting it on fire, though he doesn’t seem to realize that the camera somehow survived the original fire that killed Harold Biddle. 

He feels confident that he’s taken care of the situation, but anyone who knows a thing or two about being haunted knows it’s absolutely never that easy, and when Isaiah sees the camera, fully intact, sitting in his locker room, he begins to panic. He tells the team that the goal is to protect their QB at all costs, but none of that matters when Harold turns the whole football field into a fiery hallucination that only Isaiah seems to see, that is until one of the mothers in the stand, Laura, also realizes what’s happening. She tries to stop the game, but she’s unable to before Isaiah is brutally injured with a broken arm, just as the photograph predicted. 

Isaiah’s parents inform him that his season is over, as are his chances for a scholarship right now as his recovery time is 6 to 8 months. Laura comes to the hospital to inform Isaiah’s father that she saw Harold on the field and that he’s back for revenge to make them all pay for what they did to him—with the revenge being taken out on the group’s teen children.

Harold also inhabits the body of Nathan, who is probably going to wish he never inherited this house in the first place, though, speaking as a millennial, the Biddle house is a Pinterest dream! 

Throughout the episode, we get an understanding of all of the character’s personalities and relationships with Isaiah the popular football player who is dating Alison, a girl used to getting her way but who is very insecure and jealous of his friendship with his childhood friend Margot. And she should be because there are definitely feelings between Isaiah and Margot, they’re simply not acting on it just yet—and she doesn’t exactly believe Isaiah when he tries to warn her about the camera, so that’s a strike against her. 

Overall, it was a solid premiere that was not only entertaining but set the stage for future episodes to come. 

What did you think? Was the episode worthy of the Goosebumps label?

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