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Soundtrack review: Stonehearst asylum (John Debney, 2014)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Stonehearst asylum (John Debney, 2014)

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“Stonehearst asylum” is a movie loosely inspired by an Edgar Allan Poe story. John Debney wrote the score, and he’s been a true hit and miss composer for me. Mostly miss lately, but I was interested in this score. The subject was interesting and a good composer like Debney could really make something memorable with it.

The beginning of the score, for about 10 cues, sets the mood and gets us to know the asylum and the characters there. I could very well skip most of those cues, because I understood what’s going on from the second one. The atmosphere is creepy, dark, but the music is pretty generic. The usual stringy gothic music you’d expect to find on a score like this. “Eliza’s theme” is the only thing I remember from this part, a beautiful piano theme that John Debney really put his heart into.

I’ve still not shaken the “generic thriller horror music” feeling though. Luckily, “Stonehearst asylum” has 31 cues, so I am patient. And then the main character finally starts meeting people in the asylum. He meets Timm and I wake up, very scared. He meets Eliza and the strings touch me. I wasn’t expecting to find such a beautiful melody in this score. Then he is chased and I run with him. The orchestral madness begins. “The doctor’s story” is a lot of fun, in a creepy asylum sort of way. This score took its time to take off, but it’s flying now, and I’m invested in it. “Danse Macabre Saint Saens” delivers exactly what it promises, and I love it. It’s a crazy wonderful fantasy and I can only smile and imagine how the scene looks like.

The rest of the score doesn’t lose this pace. It ends up as a very enjoyable listen. Sometimes crazy fantasy, sometimes scary, sometimes adventurous, “Stonehearst asylum” delivers in the end. I got a couple of cues that even reminded me of Debney’s “End of days score”, while others were simply fun to listen to. “Finn catches fire / escape” for example experiments with all sort of scary sounds and it works. The score waltzes its way to the end and I am left with a very good feeling.

Cue rating: 74 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 34 / 79

Album excellence: 42%

Highlights:

Eliza’s Theme
Edward Meets Timm
Edward Meets Eliza
The Chase
The Doctor’s Story
Danse Macabre Saint Saens
Finn/Edward Fight
Countdown
Electrocution/Lamb’s Story Revealed
Finn Catches Fire/Escape
Aftermath/First Kiss
I Am Dr. Newgate!
Edward’s Story
Eliza’s Waltz
Eliza And Edward

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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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