Film scores

Soundtrack review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Mike Higham and Matthew Margeson – 2016)

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“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is a 2016 American 3D dark fantasy adventure drama film directed by Tim Burton, and written by Jane Goldman, based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Ransom Riggs. The film stars Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Chris O’Dowd, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp, Ella Purnell, Judi Dench and Samuel L. Jackson. It is a story of a boy who, following a horrific family tragedy, follows clues that take him to an abandoned orphanage on a Welsh island. As every Tim Burton movie, this one is score by…. Except it’snot Danny Elfman, to everyone’s surprise, but Matthew Margeson and Mike Higham.

Having listen to almost every previous score for a Tim Burton movie there’s a certain sound I always expect, the Elfman fantasy sound. But this is a new story, with new composers and as the score takes off I get the feeling of listening to a James Newton Howard dark fantasy score and this is a very nice surprise. The sound is more toned down compared to Elfman’s bombastic approach and this quieter sound, more magical and dreamy, suites me better. Besides I think the story demands a gentler touch as children are the focus. The flute, the chimes and the musical whispers bring me M Night Shyamalan movies nostalgia as both Mike Higham and Matthew Margeson (who shows me here what a vast range he can cover as a composer) use the very elements that usually came together in the dark and soft veil that covered those movies.

I have a smile on my face almost the entire duration of the score. The music is pure magic. I feel as if the composers delicately put together a dark playroom filled with fantasy creatures and out of this world elements for children to develop their imagination and for me to find once again the joy of dreaming without limits. Yes the music is dark but it’s a welcoming and comfortable darkness, one that gives me the impression of protection rather than danger.

As I listen to cues like “Projecting dreams” or “Enoch’s dolls” I remember the mood of Hans Zimmer’s “Interstellar”, the quieter space exploration parts. Everywhere I look in this score I find something that speaks to both adult me and younger me and I fall in love with this score with every minute that passes. It’s quite rare that the dominant feeling I get from a score is pure joy but this one just overwhelms me and makes me feel I could fly. A cue like “The Augusta” just fills me up, regenerates me and gives me wings.

For me the music of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” was simply mesmerizing. It showed me a world I can believe, a world filled with wonders and dangers, with care and trust and I can’t wait to see the movie as well. After “Eddie the Eagle”, Matthew Margeson is involved once again in what will be one of my favorite scores of 2016. I can’t get enough of the dreams and revelations that this score is showing me and I think I will be listening to it a lot. Open your hearts and minds and just let this one inside you.

Cue rating: 93 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 53 / 69

Album excellence: 77%

Highlights:

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

A Place Like This

Squirrel Rescue

Enoch’s Dolls

Projecting Dreams

The Augusta

I’ll Be Here Forever

Barron’s Experiment

Barron Revealed

Raising The Augusta

Blackpool

Standoff At Blackpool Tower

Peculiars Vs. Wights

Go To Her

 

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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