Goosebumps season 1, episode 1 recap: “Say Cheese and Die!”

Goosebumps on Disney+ and Hulu on Oct. 13, 2023.
Goosebumps on Disney+ and Hulu on Oct. 13, 2023. /

The new Goosebumps show opens with a prologue 30 years in the past, set in 1993. Teenager Harold comes home to his basement where he walks past several different items that serve as great Easter eggs, if you know a whole bunch of Goosebumps books.

There is a knock at the door, but when he goes to check, nobody is there. Whatever spooky, supernatural thing is stalking Harold tracks him back down into the basement where he dies in a mysterious fire, leaving the house empty for 30 years.

Goosebumps season 1, episode 1 recap – Fast forward 30 years…

In the present day, we meet our cast of heroes who all attend the local high school. There’s Isaiah, the star quarterback of the local high school football team, Allison, his girlfriend, James, his best friend and comic relief character, Margot, his next-door neighbor, Isabella, the ignored girl who is in the AV club, and Lucas, the daredevil kid.

This group of teenagers make their way through life as typical high school students and are aware of each other, though in some cases they don’t really interact on a day-to-day basis. The story picks up with Isaiah learning that he has to get an A on the next math test or else his grades will keep him from being able to play in the big game.

Meanwhile, Allison’s parents have discovered her plans to throw a Halloween party at their house and are forcing her to cancel it. Isaiah thinks he’s able to solve both problems.

He has Amber move the location of the party to the Biddle house, the house from the prologue, that’s been sitting empty for 30 years. He convinces Margot to let him copy her answers to get the needed grade on the test.

As a thank you for helping him out, Isaiah invites Margot to the party, much to the displeasure of Allison. As they’re setting up for the party, the teenagers discover a way into the basement of the house, a room that’s been closed off since the fire.

Isaiah heads down into the basement and discovers an old polaroid camera that he tests out by taking two pictures, one of Allison and one of Margot. But the pictures don’t develop until a more opportune moment in the plot.

The party gets into full swing, but is interrupted by Mr. Bratt, the new owner of the house who shuts down the party. The kids flee in all directions, with Allison ending up running into the woods, where she runs into a mysterious and very creepy figure.

She tries to run away from the figure, but he appears in front of her again, and screams turning into fire. Isaiah hears Allison’s scream, saving her from the woods.

Goosebumps season 1, episode 1 recap – The evil camera reveals itself…

The next day at school, Mr. Bratt finds Isaiah and hands him back his book bag that he left at the party the previous night. He reveals that he’s actually the new English teacher at the school and is surprisingly cool about his house being used as a party location for teenagers.

But he asks that it doesn’t happen again. After he leaves, Isaiah finds the polaroid pictures from last night in his bag and discovers the picture of Allison is of her trapped in the woods.

That was something that didn’t happen until several hours after the photo was taken. The photo of Margot doesn’t show her at the party either, but instead shows her choking to death in the school hallway.

It turns out, at that exact moment, Margot is getting a snack from the vending machine. Down the hall she notices a mysterious, spooky figure, very similar to the one that Allison saw in the woods the previous evening.

Focusing on the mysterious figure, she doesn’t notice that her choice of candy from the machine is supernaturally changed, as a different bar falls out of the machine. Not looking at what she got, Margot takes a bite, and immediately begins to have an allergic reaction to the candy she didn’t realize she was eating.

Isaiah is able to save her in time thanks to seeing the picture of her dying and going looking for her. Isaiah tries to show James the haunted camera, but when anybody other than Isaiah looks at the pictures, they appear blank.

James doesn’t believe Isaiah and jokingly snaps a picture of him with the camera. To Isaiah, the picture shows him breaking his arm in the upcoming football game.

Trying to take back control, Isaiah destroys the camera and burns the pictures. However during the football game, the camera mysteriously appears in his locker, seemingly unharmed.

On the field, Isaiah begins to see terrifying things including the field catching on fire, the rest of the players turning into zombies and attacking him, and the same mysterious figure seen by Margot and Allision, who screams and catches fire again. Trying to get away from the visions, Isaiah ends up breaking his arm, just like the camera said, and is out for the season.

In the hospital Isaiah is visited by Lucas’ mom, who apparently saw the hellscape version of the football field like Isaiah did. She tells Isaiah’s father that this is because of something they did a long time ago concerning the death of Harold.

Now their children will pay. Meanwhile back at the haunted house, Mr. Bratt sees the mysterious figure, who is clearly a specter of Harold.

Harold then possesses Mr. Bratt as the episode comes to a close.

Goosebumps season 1, episode 1 recap – A new take on the Goosebumps franchise

Goosebumps can be a tricky thing to try and adapt. It’s obviously a popular property, but it’s a long running book series where almost every single book takes place in a different universe than all the others.

There are a few popular things to come from the books like Slappy the Dummy and Horrorland, the haunted theme park, but there’s no overarching story throughout the books. The original series opted to take the anthology approach that the books did, with each episode telling a self-contained story based on one of the books.

The movie series made the books’ author, R.L. Stine, a main character to try and connect the books together. This series, for the first time, seems to be trying to actually bring the most famous elements from the series together into the same story.

The opening feels like a pretty traditional teenage horror setup. Scary enough to work on Hulu, but nice enough that it can still air on Disney+ as well.

The kids take center stage in this episode, though, given the hints of information we get at the end, the adults seem like they’re going to become bigger characters as the story continues. The show is trying to do a lot here.

There are so many characters introduced, some of them really only got a minute or two of screen time in this episode. We’ll see how the balance works out moving forward, but that might be part of the reason that 5 episodes of the show were released all at once.

Next. Disney Plus Loki season 2, episode 3 recap “1893”. dark

What did you think of Goosebumps season 1 episode 1? You can watch Goosebumps season 1 on Disney Plus.