Film scores

Soundtrack review: Goosebumps (Danny Elfman – 2015)

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“Goosebumps” is a 2015 American 3D live-action/computer-animated film directed by Rob Letterman and inspired by a famous children’s book series. I am not familiar with the stories. After moving into a small town, a teenage boy meets a girl, his new neighbor. Her father is no other than the author of the books and he keeps all the ghosts and monsters in the series locked up in his manuscripts. The boy and a friend accidentally open one of Stine’s books, leading to the release of every ghost and monster from the manuscripts. Now this is truly a material worthy of Danny Elfman’s talents. For me his year has not been that brilliant, but I’m hoping for a comeback here.

Yep, there’s the Elfman fantasy adventure sound I’ve grown to know and love! The main theme displays it in all its fun and glory. I can definitely hear Elfman going back to his “Batman” or “Beetlejuice” classics when I listen to “To the rescue”. This is a well-developed sound which the composer knows best. The score is complete with choirs and stabbing musical sounds which add the cartoon horror flavor.

With a score like this you kind of know what you get. This is one of those cases though where no news is good news. No surprises from Danny Elfman on a fantasy score means we get a solid composition, fun, adventurous, entertaining, with the occasional emotional moments and all the thrills this composer is able to deliver. “Goosebumps” is textbook animation scoring.

For me though it’s not enough; even if I enjoy the sound, I’ve heard it so many times before that I get a little bored halfway through the score. I get a little nostalgia kick from cues like “They’re here” or “Confession” because Elfman’s hororrish scores were part of my musical upbringing. Every now and then I need a score like this, or rather cues like this to take me back to a very clear place.

I flinch and the subtle Celtic vibes and the majestic sound of “Farewell” which is a masterful sea fighting cue if I ever heard one; don’t care what scenes it’s written for, this is what it evokes to me: a ship, the angry sea and a fight. This is my favorite cue from “Goosebumps” because it was the only one that actually gave me some. It came late in the score but this is the moment when I finally connected with it.

After the credits the release already gets a few bonus cues which will please Elfman fans even more. This score is for them as well as for those who are looking for an entertaining adventure score they’ve heard before.

Cue rating: 82 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 14 / 64

Album excellence: 23%

Highlights:

Goosebumps

Confession

They’re Here

Farewell

Credit

About the author

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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