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Goosebumps by Danny Elfman (Review)

posted Nov 19, 2015, 7:29 PM by Koray Savas

Danny Elfman continues another busy year with Goosebumps. The fantasy action film is based on R.L. Stine's bestselling horror novellas, and stars Jack Black as Stine. It is discovered that the monsters that populate his books exist and are trapped within their respective manuscripts, but when protagonist Zach accidentally unlocks them, the creatures are let loose on their small Delaware town.

Elfman is no stranger to fantasy. Having made his name by working within the genre, I imagine Goosebumps was an effortless project for him to flex his creative muscles. The score album is uniquely arranged in that the music is structured into two separate parts. The main body of the score is contained from tracks 1 through 17 and runs for 42 minutes, while a bonus section follows with tracks 18 through 29 and runs for an additional 23 minutes. I have never seen a current film score released in such a fashion, though I appreciate Elfman's effort to include as much music as possible for the fans that may want it. However, what I imagine to be his preferred album arrangement of 42 minutes, is the best representation of what this score has to offer. There is a great main theme that runs through it, which can be heard straight away in "Goosebumps." The remainder of this section is mostly a fast-paced action narrative that keeps the energy high without much downtime. Towards the end, the score already begins to wear itself out, with cues such as "Mantis Chase" really going overboard. Things are wrapped up nicely with "Credits," though "Ice Rink" remains the score's highlight. Elfman is unable to resist a Herrmann homage as he includes the theremin alongside his usual use of choir.

Goosebumps is a fun yet forgettable score. Danny Elfman injects a great sense of momentum and energy into his 42-minute arrangement, but the music starts to push its limits despite the abridged runtime. The main theme is perfect and receives great treatment and variation as the music progresses. However, the score feels empty and fails to engage on a deeper emotional level that makes it worth revisiting.