Upset about moving from a big city to a small town, teenager Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) finds a silver lining when he meets the beautiful girl, Hannah (Odeya Rush), living right next door. But every silver lining has a cloud, and Zach’s comes when he learns that Hannah has a mysterious dad who is revealed to be R. L. Stine (Jack Black), the author of the bestselling Goosebumps series. It turns out that there is a reason why Stine is so strange… he is a prisoner of his own imagination – the monsters that his books made famous are real, and Stine protects his readers by keeping them locked up in their books. When Zach unintentionally unleashes the monsters from their manuscripts and they begin to terrorize the town, it’s suddenly up to Stine, Zach, and Hannah to get all of them back in the books where they belong.
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Zach Cooper and his mother Gale move from New York to the fictional town of Madison, Delaware. Their new neighbors are the mysterious “Mr. Shivers” and his daughter Hannah, but when Zach tries to introduce himself, Mr. Shivers warns him to stay away from them. At school, Zach befriends Champ, an often bullied, socially awkward student. One night, Zach hears Mr. Shivers and Hannah arguing from his window, followed by Hannah screaming. He calls the police, but Mr. Shivers assures the officers that nothing is wrong and the scream was from a movie. Fearing Hannah is in danger, Zach tricks Mr. Shivers into going to the police station for further questioning.
MOVIE SPOILER ALERT. If you are planning to see the movie which is currently showing in local theaters, do not read the details below.
Once he is gone, Zach and Champ break into the house in search of Hannah. They find several Goosebumps manuscripts, all of which are locked. They’re confronted by Hannah, who assumes they are burgling the house. Zach clears up the misunderstanding, but accidentally unlocks The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena; the book opens, releasing a Yeti that breaks out of the house. They pursue the Yeti to a local ice rink, but Mr. Shivers appears and sucks it back into the book. On the way home, Mr. Shivers explains he’s truly R.L. Stine, the author of Goosebumps. He created his stories as a child, to cope with severe bullying. However, the monsters came to life and became uncontrollable, so he had to trap them inside their manuscripts.
Returning to the house, Stine and the kids are confronted by Slappy, the villain of Night of the Living Dummy, who is angry about being imprisoned. Before Stine can capture him, Slappy burns his own manuscript and flees with the others. They are attacked by gnomes, forcing Stine and the kids try to fend them off, but each gnome reforms after being smashed, making them realize that the monsters cannot be destroyed.
Slappy releases the rest of the monsters, letting them rampage under his comand. Zach suggests Stine write a new book that will trap every monster, but he can only do it on a special typewriter which is at the high school. On the way there, The Giant Praying Mantis from A Shocker On Shock Street attacks Stine’s Station Wagon, so they are forced into hiding. The Werewolf of Fever Swamp pursues them into an abandoned supermarket, only to be run over by Zach’s aunt Lorraine. As they continue toward the school, Zach notices that Hannah glows blue in the moonlight. He privately questions Stine about this and Stine reveals that Hannah is a Goosebumps character (The Ghost Next Door) he created, but she is unaware of this. At the school, they find the typewriter and start on the new book. As the monsters storm the building, Zach leads the other students in barricading the doors, while Champ saves popular girl Taylor from the werewolf. Slappy confronts Stine and breaks his fingers with the typewriter case before the story is finished.
Stine and the kids board a school bus and lead the monsters to an abandoned carnival on the outskirts of town. Stine distracts the monsters by letting The Blob Monster from The Blob That Ate Everyone suck him into the Blob’s body. Zach finishes the story, but is reluctant to open the book because Hannah will be trapped inside it as well. Hannah reveals that she knew she was not real all along and opens the book, sucking all of the monsters into it. While Zach tries to hold on to her, Hannah accepts her fate and is imprisoned as well after they kiss.
Sometime later, Stine has started working as Zach’s English teacher. After class, Zach asks him if he misses Hannah, but Hannah suddenly reappears. Stine reveals that he wrote her back into existence with another book. She and Zach kiss and leave school together while Stine burns Hannah’s manuscript. As he prepares to leave the school, he sees the typewriter typing by itself inside its display case; the Invisible Boy has evaded imprisonment.