- Review by Kaya Savas - October 18, 2018
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween continues the series based on the popular R.L. Stine children’s horror books. The film is directed by Ari Sandel, and the film reunites him with composer Dominic Lewis who scored The DUFF for Sandel. The film has a completely different cast and crew than the first Goosebumps, and follows the story of a group of kids who accidentally release Slappy the ventriloquist dummy onto their town on Halloween. Slappy awakens the Goosebumps monsters, and now the kids must find a way to put an end to the mayhem. While Goosebumps 2 won’t win any awards, it’s still a goofy and fun Halloween distraction that is aided tremendously by Dominic Lewis’s score. If you’re looking for an improvement to what Danny Elfman did in the first film, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised since Lewis gives it his all and doesn’t phone it in.
Themes! Glorious themes! Dominic Lewis builds his Goosebumps 2 score with a great central motif which you hear in the first track, and then he breaks it down throughout the score. The Goosebumps movies have definitely treaded more into fantasy territory rather than horror, and the score definitely reflects that more. Sure there is some spooky undertones, but the music is building more of a whimsical atmosphere. The one thing that Lewis does well here is build a score with an intricate structure. Another great theme here is Slappy’s theme, Slappy being our main antagonist. Slappy’s theme is beautifully simple, it hooks you and has just the right amount of a menacing tone. While nothing in the film is terrifying or scary, the music does just enough to create the weight that is needed to feel some sort of stakes.
When it comes to putting these themes into play, the score is able to to do some great things. Elfman’s score, while fun, felt like it was always just bumbling and bouncing in the background. Here we can feel the music shaping and guiding you through scenes. The way Lewis combines strings, woodwinds, a touch of piano and chorus creates a wonderful identity. Lewis weaves his themes through sequences that really dictate the action. Since the movie is all about visual moments, that’s where the music focuses. The score pushes towards cuts in the edit or creatures popping out and attacking. The score could have easily been something slapped on top, but thankfully the music is working and doing heavy lifting. It's the difference between grabbing a suit off the rack, or have a tailor fit it just right. In a sense, this is a score you’d hear more in animation than live-action. We do have those bouncy quirky moments too, but thankfully the score is never “silly”. The music is able to push towards this wonderfully big finale at the end that really brings everything home.
The movie fails to create any great characters except Slappy, and that’s why Slappy is really the only other key presence in the score. Dominic has proven his abilities for truly building and bringing characters to life, but writers and directors need to give him the canvas to do so. In that sense the script/direction for Goosebumps 2 is lacking. But Dominic worked some fantastic magic with the material given to him.
Goosebumps 2 won’t change lives, but it’s a really fun Halloween treat. Dominic recorded this score with a live orchestra and chorus, and it makes all the difference. The score is better than it has any right to be for this Goosebumps sequel, and the movie should be grateful they had Dominic’s score to lean on. If you’re going to bring Halloween creatures to life, this is the score you want to help do it. The score hooks you with the main theme and carries you for a fun journey all the way through.