FOLLOWING what was a nifty and enjoyable adaptation of RL Stine’s beloved children’s horror book series, we have what is a disappointingly pedestrian sequel that never fully capitalises on its moments of invention.

We move on to a new set of characters this time, including science geek Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor, whom you may recognise from the recent It adaptation), his best buddy Sam (Caleel Harris), Sonny’s big sister Sarah (Madison Iseman) and their mum Kathy (Wendi McLendon-Covey of Bridesmaids).

READ MORE: New Halloween movie continues the bloodline

When Sonny and Sam decided to scavenge an old abandoned house for junk they could sell, they happen across an ancient book which leads them to inadvertently bring to life the ventriloquist’s dummy Slappy, who was introduced in the first film.

The two friends watch Slappy’s playful, magic-powered mischief turn to sinister malevolence as he unveils his plans to wreak Halloween havoc upon the town once more.

There’s something quite plodding and curiously unengaging about the chaotic Halloween shenanigans this time around. It darts from one set-piece to another with only fleeting impact; the special effects are by far the most creative aspect as we see everything from an army of garden gnomes to vicious gummy bears come to life.

But the film’s invention is mostly front-loaded as beyond that it never really amounts to much as it fails to get the most out of what the premise has to offer.

It doesn’t generate much genuine involvement with the characters as, despite some engaged performances, their family/friendship drama is flippant and external threats are solved all too easily as the film hyperactively rushes along to the next thing.

The plot reeks of a generic and easy join-the-dots mentality that just isn’t that interesting to watch unfold. The first film found an inventive way to bring Stine’s distinctive creations to life by making the main character the focus as he tried to return his monsters back to within the pages of the books from which they had escaped.

Jack Black does reappear here but it’s a conspicuously brief role that practically feels like he filmed it while on his lunch break from the recent similar but superior family-friendly, horror-tinged adventure The House With A Clock In Its Walls.

This is a much broader but also far less involving attempt at conjuring the same sort of anarchic Halloween atmosphere as the first film. However, for all but absolute newcomers to that sort of thing, it leaves many tricks and treats to be desired.