Slappy is alive and thriving thanks to Mr. Bratt as we enter the finale of Goosebumps. Titled “Welcome to Horrorland,” this episode may not have the fan-favorite theme park from R.L. Stine’s books, but it certainly contains some horrors. Are you readers ready for one last scare?
Episode 10: Welcome to Horrorland – Written by Rob Letterman and Nicholas Stollar
The human who emerged from Slappy at the end of the previous episode is seen in a flashback to 1879. He’s in the trenches of a battlefield, where he gets shot in the abdomen. The end seems near until an explosion sends him falling through the earth into a concealed tomb. He’s bleeding, but has enough strength to ignite his lighter to see where he is. He sets fire to a path of oil that illuminates the chamber, which is covered in inscriptions in another language, one the man seems capable of reading. Three words glow brightest, as if calling to him, so he recites them. “Memori Hosanna Kanduu.” Suddenly, the blood that was leaking from his wound retreats back inside him. The wound heals.
Flashing forward to 1885, that same man, now going by the name Kanduu (Chris Geere), is in New York City and walks into the fairgrounds of Mahar’s Carnival of Wonders. He examines a tent that contains empty coffins, a woodcarver’s desk, and carings of puppets, one of which is still in progress. A man enters and introduces himself as Franz Mahar (Paul Rust), the owner of the carnival. Kanduu introduces himself, and Mahar is already familiar with the name, calling him a magician. “I am not a magician,” Kanduu corrects Mahar, animating the roughly carved dummy for a moment. “I’m real,” he declares, pointing out that Mahar’s carnival is a failure but promising to change that in exchange for the woodcarver building something for him.
A year later, Mahar’s carnival is a success, and he’s almost completed his assignment for Kanduu – a wooden circular tower. But one night, Mahar goes to Kanduu and witnesses the sorcerer casting a spell on another human being, transforming the man into a dummy. His eyes open, he realizes all of the people in his carnival have become puppets of Kanduu. He asks Kanduu why he did this. “For the ritual,” Kanduu replies. “You are a maker of puppets, and now you can become the puppet master.” Franz regrets helping Kanduu, but all is not lost. He finishes the puppet he had been working on before accepting Kanduu’s offer. On the night of the ritual, he presents it to Kanduu in a storage chest. Kanduu is touched by the dummy that will someday be known as Slappy. But as Kanduu has his back turned, Mahar reads a page he tore from Kanduu’s notebook, reciting a spell. Kanduu realizes what he’s doing and turns around, stabbing Mahar, who is able to finish the spell. Kanduu collapses, and black smoke emerges from his body, traveling to the dummy, who comes to life with his soul inside. Before his death, Mahar closes the chest, trapping the dummy inside.
In the present, it’s morning at Sarah’s house in Seattle. Margot (Isa Briones) can’t believe Lucas broke up with her and went home without saying goodbye. She’s even more upset when she hears that Lucas texted Isabella (Ana Yi Puig) to say he made it back to Port Lawrence. In her fury, Margot says she wants to go check out her new high school before they head back home. She steps away, and we see her try to call Lucas.
Lucas (Will Price) is standing at the playground where he and Margot once shared their first kiss when his phone rings. He sees it’s Margot calling, and he sends the call to voicemail. He arrives home at the Harbor Stop, looking for his mom. But the voice that answers back makes him stop dead in his tracks. “Hey, kiddo,” says Dennis (Matthew Pohlkamp), Lucas’ dad. He says this is impossible as his dad shares that he was in the witness protection program, unable to tell even his mother that he was alive until the trial was over. Nora (Rachael Harris) rushes into comfort Lucas, encouraging him to forgive his father as Dennis invites his son to go for a ride to make up for lost time. Dennis extends his hand, and Lucas takes it. But the illusion disappears. Dennis was really Kanduu, and now we see Nora behind Lucas, who is a dummy. Lucas’ face hardens.
James (Miles McKenna) drives his friends home from Seattle, first dropping off Isabella (Zoe Saldana). When he gets to Margot’s house, James and Isaiah (Zack Morris) have a moment alone. He encourages Isaiah not to wait to tell Margot how he really feels, who feels motivated enough to take his advice. James drives away after Isaiah hops out, stopping Margot and telling her that he’s had feelings for her for a while and was afraid to ruin their friendship. “I don’t know what to say,” Margot responds, torn between her feelings. But Isaiah just wants her to think about it. As they part, she says “OK” in their secret language.
Inside Isaiah’s house, he finds his parents, Ben (Leonard Roberts) and Laura (Lucia Walters) with a college recruiter who is offering Isaiah a full scholarship to the University of Washington. Isaiah shares that he’s not sure he wants to continue playing football. He grows suspicious when the recruiter says the scholarship offer is still there whether he plays or not, which seems too good to be true. He’s offered a pen to sign paperwork, but he chooses not to accept it.
James pulls up to his house but stops midway down the driveway when he sees his crush, Sam (Aiden Howard), standing in the way dressed in James’ cat Halloween costume. He’s holding a promposal sign, asking James to be his date to prom.
Colin (Rob Huebel) and Sarah (Lexa Doig) tell Margot that they’ve reconciled and decided to get back together. It’s hard to believe, but they’re opening their arms to invite her into a hug, and she steps forward. Just then, Isaiah rushes in and tells Margot this isn’t real. When she turns to look back, she now sees Kanduu in between her parents, who are dummies. They run out of the house just as James pulls up, with Isabella already back in his Jeep. They both came to the same realization that their loved ones have become dummies. Margot wants to save Lucas from the same fate, so they race to the Harbor Stop, only to find it empty. But Lucas races out of the garage on a dirtbike, so they get back in the Jeep and follow him.
The sun has set by the time Lucas pulls up to their school. The teens stay in the Jeep as they watch him dismount, facing away from them as he removes his helmet. He slowly turns around, and they see that he’s become a dummy, pointing at them. Just then, all four doors of the Jeep are pulled open by their dummy parents, who drag the teens out and onto the football field, where tents have been erected, and a wooden tower is being quickly built by an army of dummies.
The teens are dragged into a tent where Mr. Bratt (Justin Long) writes with an ink quill. They ask him why he wasn’t turned into a dummy, and he reveals that he made a deal with Kanduu in order to get a great ending for his book. When Kanduu enters and speaks, the teens instantly recognize his voice – Slappy! “It’s good to see you all again,” he grins, reciting a spell. The tent around them dissolves.
Like Harold Biddle’s journal, the teens are walking through Kanduu’s memories of the battlefield. “We were fighting in a country that we didn’t belong in for something that was not ours to begin with,” he tells them about the war scene they’re witnessing. He explains that the soldiers were taught the local language, which is how he was able to read the inscriptions on the buried tomb he knocked into when the bomb went off. “I almost died in this temple but instead was reborn,” he shares, adding that he adopted the name of the last line of the spell because it gave him his purpose. “In the absence of true horrors, humans created their own, and they were far worse,” he says, sharing that all of the spells on the wall bring real monsters into the world. “People need monsters, or they become monsters.” In the center of a tomb is a carving of a spiral tower full of people on fire, a ritual that will restore these horrors.
Back in the tent, Mr. Bratt is shocked when he hears the rest of Kanduu’s plan, sacrificing 1,000 souls to unleash monsters on the world. When the teens argue that this is wrong, Kanduu tells them that their deaths won’t matter since he will be ending wars between humans since they will have a common enemy. As he leaves the tent, he summons Fifi to kill the teens. Mr. Bratt’s reincarnated dog appears, eyes glowing red, fangs sharp and barred. Mr. Bratt grabs his quill and stabs the dog, who burns away like all of Kanduu’s broken spells. “I had no idea he was going to sacrifice the whole town, you’ve gotta believe me,” Mr. Bratt pleads, calling himself a coward and a bad writer. He laments that regret like this runs in his family, revealing that not only is he related to the Biddles and Ephram Bratt, but that his great-grandfather was Franz Mahar. He says Mahar must’ve regretted his decision since he found a way to stop Kanduu. The teens ask how he did it, and Mr. Bratt says he used Kanduu’s magic against him. They ask how. “You’d have to ask him,” Mr. Bratt replies. The teens get an idea.
Kanduu stands looking up at his completed tower, 1,000 humans turned into dummies standing in place, waiting to be sacrificed. “Hello, old friend,” Mahar greets Kanduu. The teens are behind him, bragging that they brought him back. Margot holds a notebook of Kanduu’s spells. Their faces beam with pride, but sour when they hear Mahar say “I’m not here to stop you.” He tells Kanduu that he regrets betraying him. “I am your humble servant, we must release the horrors together.” He extends his hand, and Kanduu smiles. “Start the ritual,” he commands, handing Mahar a torch to ignite the tower. Kanduu recites a spell, and the flames instantly ignite the entire tower, all 1,000 sacrificial souls screaming in terror.
Kanduu grins with delight, the reflection of the flaming tower gleaming in his eyes… and then his face goes solid… his eyes lose their color… he’s turned into a dummy. The tower isn’t actually on fire. Mahar’s face disappears to reveal Mr. Bratt having been in his place. Margot searches through the book of spells for a specific one to undo everything. But as she does, Kanduu regains his fleshy exterior. “That spell doesn’t work on me,” he laughs, demanding his book back. Isaiah grabs a torch and the book, threatening to burn it, but Kanduu reveals he’s committed it to memory. Kanduu begins to recite a spell that causes the football field to break apart, with fiery binds of black smoke rising out of the earth and wrapping around the teens. Isaiah discovers that the book can’t burn, and he uses it to swat the binds off him. He then frees Margot so she can find the spell while he stalls, rushing after Kanduu and tackling him to the ground. Margot repeats the spell that saved Kanduu during the war, only backwards – “Kanduu Hosanna Memori.” He suddenly looks exactly how he did during the war, uniform on and rifle in hand. His bullet wound appears, and he’s going to die. Before he does, he tries to take revenge on Margot, pointing his gun at her. Isaiah dodges in front of her, taking the bullet and falling to the ground. The spell is broken, and all of the dummies turn back into people. Ben and Laura see their son in peril and rush to him.
Nora shares the blame with the other parents in the hospital waiting room. Mr. Bratt feels awful. A doctor tells Ben and Laura that there’s not much they can do. Margot goes to Isaiah’s bedside. “I’ve always wanted to be with you, but I’ve been scared,” she tells him, saying she never wanted to lose him. “You’ve broken my heart so many times,” she reveals through her sobs. “I’d still give anything to have you back. I would risk anything to have us back.” The monitor tracking Isaiah’s vitals flatlines. He’s dead. And then Margot remembers she still has Kanduu’s book of spells. “Memori Hosanna Kanduu.” Isaiah’s eyes open.
Mr. Bratt goes to the sink in a hospital bathroom to wash his face. He dries it and puts his glasses back up, looking up at his reflection in the mirror. Only it isn’t his reflection. “Not again,” he groans, seeing Kanduu looking back at him in the mirror.
“Every great story has a beginning, a middle, and a twist.” That’s what R.L. Stine said in his podcast cameo in the previous episode, and true to his word, this series adaptation of Goosebumps ends with a twist. Does it mean there will be another season? Not necessarily, but with the show having proven such a hit for Disney+ and Hulu, and with so many fan-favorite elements of the Goosebumps books not yet brought to life, anything is possible. Time will tell, but one thing’s for sure: If there’s Goosebumps news to share, you’ll find it here on Laughing Place. And if there’s another season, I’ll be back with more recaps. Until then, reader beware…
Songs Featured in This Episode: