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Dream House by John Debney (Review)

posted Oct 16, 2011, 8:40 PM by Kaya Savas

Mainstream horror films are my least favorite genre mostly because the formula for them have become so predictable that they rarely try anything new. These days you're either shown tons of gore or cheap scares through jarring camera tricks. For Dream House composer John Debney goes through the motions in delivering a good, but somewhat predictable horror score. The score is full of atmosphere, but when it comes to getting your heart to pound it resorts to harsh and loud bursts like every other horror score you've heard.

The music itself is rich in spooky atmosphere and Debney's instrumentation hits the nail on the head. He does a great job of placing you in this world and crafting a soundscape, however when it comes to the execution we are lead through a maze of twists and turns that we've walked through many times before. We are stuck in this dark world of brooding strings and bellowing brass. The music will quiet down to a piano with subtle strings only to bash you over the head with music as loud as the orchestra could play. The way I would classify this score is that it tries too hard to map the editing and not do its own job. Scores like that often result to cheap scares. Then you look at a score like Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark and see how a horror score should play. However, the score does have moments of greatness. At certain points closer towards the climax Debney finds room to burst out of the boring brooding stuff and lay on some incredibly thematic material. The last two tracks are quite magnificent,

Horror is a genre that has been running in place for a good 15 years or so. There are very few horror films I consider to be great films. Cheap scares and convoluted plots don't do it for me anymore, but for some reason that's all we're getting from Hollywood these days. Will there ever be another The Thing or The Shining? Well, okay there is another The Thing, but you know what I mean. In the past few years I've heard some promising horror scores from smaller independent productions, but when it comes to mainstream horror there isn't much to showcase. John Debney would have done something much more impressive if he created a stylish and thematic horror score. When the score is great it's when it's not trying to be scary and maybe that's the key? Horror scores shouldn't try to be scary.
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