Jack Black and Cate Blanchett have excellent chemistry together. They're both quite humorous, but they also nail the characters' more serious moments. It's weird that a trifecta of children's/family films has produced some of Jack Black's best roles. Although, you feel a bit more of the Jack Black personality here than in his other two roles, he does manifest the character of Uncle Jonathan, the fun uncle who also has a secret undertaken. Overall, all the characters are really well-fleshed out here.
Visually the film looks great from the 50s' setting to the entire look of the lavish house from the title, especially the scary visuals. Really, they rank with the likes of Tim Burton or Krampus.
The film knows when to have fun, but it knows when to bring on the scares. As a child I preferred the original book and the other works of John Bellairs over Goosebumps, because the horror was played more directly and seriously, and this movie understands that. Cautious parents be aware that this is as scary as a PG movie can get. Well, maybe not as much as The Witches, but what is. This is definitely Coraline level.
The only downside is that at a running time of one hour and forty-four minutes, the second act, which is heavy on the character bits, drags a bit. Most of the action doesn't happen till the third act.
Roth surpassed my expectations here, and I hope he gets a chance at adapting the second book in the series.