Welcome back, dear reader, to the second episode recap of the 2023 revival of Goosebumps. This one’s another classic, The Haunted Mask, a story I thought about literally Halloween for the rest of my childhood after reading it early in R.L. Stine’s kid-friendly horror series. Since this new adaptation has continuity, be sure to start with the first episode, Say Cheese and Die! Continue reading, if you dare.
Episode 2: “The Haunted Mask” – Written by Franklin Jin Roh
The wake-up alarm goes off at 7:00 a.m. in the bedroom of Isabella (Ana Yi Puig). She opens her phone and instantly begins scrolling through social media posts, leaving negative comments. At Port Lawrence High School, she starts her day in the gym, where the football team is working out. Coach Rifken (Gardiner Millar) ignores her as she tries to tell him she has the footage he asked for. As she heads to class, she passes guidance counselor Colin (Rob Huebel) talking with his daughter Margot (Isa Briones) about how her mom isn’t coming home from Seattle for her birthday. Margot seems upset, and Isabella tries to ask her if she’s okay, but Margot walks away as if she’s invisible. Near the stairs, Lucas (Will Price) almost runs into her on his skateboard. “Sorry, I didn’t see you,” he says. And when Allison (Rhiannon Payne) bumps into Isabella, she says, “Excuse you, clumsy.” Isabella watches Allison approach her friends to brag about her party. Isabella looks down at her phone and sends it to Allison’s parents. Later, she overhears Allison asking her boyfriend, Isaiah (Zack Morris), “Who hates me that much?” She also overhears Isaiah saying that the party can be saved with a venue change.
In her bedroom after school, Isabella’s brother Alan (Ian Ho) encourages her to go to the party she tried to sabotage. He even pulled out her old vampire costume. “Don’t you want to see the Biddle Death House in person?,” Alan asks her. She complains that she’s invisible to everyone, but Alan says that might be because she never joins in. And so she goes, wearing her old vampire cape. She moves through the crowd unseen and ends up sulking near an old cuckoo clock. That’s when she hears a disembodied voice whispering her name. She follows it down to the basement, and the sound seems to be coming from a white mask on a desk. You deserve to be seen; just put me on,” the mask says to her. She puts it on and goes back upstairs. Suddenly, all eyes are on her. She walks between Isaiah and Allison, tracing her fingers around both of them. As she walks away, Isaiah’s gaze lingers a little too long on Isabella for Allison’s taste, and she walks away from him in a huff.
Isabella returns home elated, still wearing the mask. She goes to her bedroom and undoes the clasp. The mask doesn’t seem to want to let go of her, but it eventually gives way. Isabella lays in bed, grinning. The face on the mask has changed to match her mood.
Isaiah sulks at his kitchen table, unable to shake the ghostly visions he saw at the football game where he broke his arm. He tries to call James and gets his best friend’s voicemail. Margot comes over to apologize for not believing him about the camera. “I saw it happen,” she tells him, adding that she could tell something was wrong during the game. She asks him what he saw. “You’re better off staying far away from this,” he tells her.
Nathan Bratt (Justin Long) wakes up on the floor of the living room of the old Biddle house. His whole body hurts as he gets up, and as he takes a few steps, he seems to lose control of his limbs. He picks up his phone and sees that it’s Monday! He fights through his lack of motor control to get to school for his first day as the new English teacher. At school, he keeps losing control and goes to the bathroom to wash his face. When he looks in the mirror, the reflection staring back at him is that of Harold Biddle (Ben Cockell)! “Help me find him,” the ghost commands. Mr. Bratt begs the ghost to leave him alone. We see his body try to fight the possession for a moment, but then he goes calm, grinning in the mirror at Harold.
Before leaving for school, the mask whispered to Isabella to take it with her. During football practice, she uses a drone to record the team. She’s surprised when Isaiah approaches her, calling her “Susan” and asking if she has footage from Friday’s game. “Are you sure you want to see that?,” she asks. She leaves her drone floating in the air, taking Isaiah to the A.V. Club, and as she pulls up the footage on a computer, Isaiah says he doesn’t know anything about her. She tells him her name is actually Isabella. “I’m sorry,” he says as she shows him how to scroll through the footage.
When she returns to practice, her drone is floating where she left it, but Lucas is on the roof near it, and a crowd has gathered to watch him. He’s about to jump off to grab the drone. She calls for him to stop, but it’s too late, and the drone crashes to the ground, breaking. She finds herself sitting next to Lucas in Colin’s office, and a compromise is made that Lucas will pay Isabella $5 per week until the drone is paid for. She’s ready to accept, but the mask whispers to her, saying, “Do not back down,” as she hears a ringing sound. Isabella snaps, saying that the drone costs $3,000, diminishing Lucas’ future earning potential and calling him “Pathetic.” When Colin tries to keep things civil, she belittles his career, saying, “You literally failed at life.” The ringing sound stops, and Isabella realizes all of the horrible things she just said. She apologizes as she grabs her backpack and agrees to the $5 per week deal.
Isaiah goes to the locker room to check his locker. The camera is no longer there, but Mr. Biddle is when he turns around, dressed like a referee and acting far younger than his age. “Your dad did some work on my house,” Mr. Biddle tells Isaiah. “He used to play football here, too, right?” Isaiah asks Mr. Biddle how he knew that. “I know a lot about my students,” he says in a creepy way. “Sorry about the arm,” he adds. “It’s not your fault,” Isaiah responds. “I know, can you imagine?,” Biddle questions.
Nora (Rachael Harris) is cleaning tables at the Harbor Stop when Colin shows up to talk to her about Lucas. He tells her about the drone and how he’s going to talk to Isabella’s parents to try and work something out. “I knew when Dennis died, it was gonna be hard, but I thought he was going to be sad, not reckless,” Nora says. Colin reaffirms that she’s doing a great job as a mother. Their conversation is interrupted by Elsie from the nursery, who asks Colin how his wife is, adding that she misses seeing her at the store. “See you tonight,” Colin says to Nora as he leaves.
When Isabella gets home, her mother, Victoria (Francoise Yip), yells at her. The drone belonged to her father, and she took it without asking. Victoria grounds Isabella, confiscating her phone and computer. “No wonder Dad doesn’t want to be around,” Isabella snaps at her mom. We see Victoria lock Isabella’s electronics in a drawer.
“Sorry, we’re actually closing,” Nora says as Nathan Bratt enters the Harbor Stop. He frowns overdramatically as he says he just wanted an egg sandwich. She agrees to warm one up for him, and she has a moment of recognition and asks if he’s the new English Teacher, adding that her son Lucas likes him. He tells her that he’s living in the old Biddle house, and she mentions she’s heard it’s haunted. “I did hear the horrible story about the boy who used to live there,” Nathan tells her. “Yes, Harold,” Nora nods. “Kids can be so cruel,” Nathan responds, a comment that raises Nora’s eyebrows. He says everyone seems to have forgotten Harold and moved on. “Not everyone,” Nora says as she turns around to take the sandwich out of the microwave and package it to go. When she turns around, Nathan is gone. No, actually, he’s somehow right behind her! He reaches over her for a packet of cocoa powder. “Thanks, Nora,” he says as he hands her money and leaves.
That night, Isaiah takes a trash bag to the curb and tries to put it in the bin with just one hand. Nora appears to help him and says she wants to ask him about the game, beginning to pull something out of her purse. But Isaiah’s father, Ben (Leonard Roberts), rushes out and tells his son to go inside. Ben tells Nora to go home. On her way, she walks past Margot and asks if she can pass something on to Isaiah. She gives her a photo and says, “Ask him if he recognizes this kid.” Margot looks down at a picture of Harold Biddle.
Isabella’s devices have been locked up, but Alan still has his phone. He shows Isabella a video of Lucas jumping off the roof at school and destroying the drone. He wants to help her show it to Dad, but she tells him she’s got it covered. After he leaves her room, the mask whispers to her. “Let me help you.”
“I saw him on the football field,” Isaiah tells Margot when she shows him the photo of Harold Biddle. “He was the referee, and then he was on fire.” Margot tells him she thinks it's an image of the boy who died in the house. “I think we need to go to Nora at the Harbor Stop.”
Lucas is practicing tricks on his skateboard outside the Harbor Stop. The skateboard slips away from him and lands near a dumpster. Isabella steps out from behind it, wearing the mask and a hoodie, bending over to pick up the skateboard. She walks forward, dragging it, and then sends it flying into Lucas, knocking him onto his back. He grabs the skateboard to try and protect himself as Isabella begins to attack him, breaking the skateboard in half and tossing him into a pile of garbage. As she does so, her hood falls down, and we see that the mask has grown around her head. She looks like a monster, and even her hands have changed. Isaiah and Margot arrive just in time to save Lucas, scaring the monster away with paddles.
Alan is reading a book in bed when he hears strange noises downstairs. In the kitchen, he sees a monster tearing apart the house. He hides behind cabinets and pulls out his phone to call his sister. But then the phone in the monster’s back pocket starts to ring. “Izzy?,” he asks as the monster turns around and begins to chase it. He runs to the backyard fort and hides behind a window on the upper level. Isabella breaks through. “This isn’t you, Izzy I know you’re in there,” Alan cries for his sister. She begins to rebel against the mask, tearing it apart behind her head and struggling to pull it off. Her hands go back to normal as she cries and apologizes to Alan.
The next day, Isabella and Alan take the mask to a bridge over a creek. They toss it in and walk away, but they don’t know they aren’t alone. Mr. Bratt steps out from the trees where he is watching them. He looks into the water and sees the mask looking up at him.
Isabella apologizes for making a mess of the house to Victoria as they drive somewhere. They pull up to a very nice house. When Eliza (Laura Mennell) answers the door, she seems annoyed that Victoria brought her daughter. She calls her son James (Miles McKenna) downstairs to come and hang out with Isabella in the game room. In the backyard, Victoria joins Eliza, Nora, and Ben. “I’m telling you, he’s back, and I think he’s coming for our children,” Nora pleads to the group. Victoria warns Nora that with the way she’s talking, she risks losing custody of Lucas. Eliza is on Victoria's side, adding what a pity it would be for Lucas to have to finish high school without his mom. “At least I’m present in my son’s life,” Nora counters at Eliza.
In the game room, James and Isabella play pool. On Isabella’s turn, she scratches and sends the cue ball off the table. It hits James in the head! He explodes! There’s green goo all over the wall! It’s all over Isabella’s face! She screams!
What an ending! What was the James explosion about? You’ll have to proceed to the next episode to find out. It’s now streaming on Disney+ and Hulu, and I’ve also got you covered with another episode recap. Here’s what’s coming up next.
James wants desperately for people to like him. At the Halloween party, James finds himself in a time loop reliving the same night, but he ultimately breaks free hand-in-hand with his crush. This fairytale quickly turns into a nightmare.
Songs Featured in This Episode:
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