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Soundtrack review: Annabelle Hooper and the Ghosts of Nantucket (David James Nielsen – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Annabelle Hooper and the Ghosts of Nantucket (David James Nielsen – 2017)

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“Annabelle Hooper and the Ghosts of Nantucket” is a 2016 mystery movie. Co-written and directed by Paul Serafini, the film stars Bailee Madison as the titular teenage mystery writer who faces a real life haunting on a vacation. While spending some time on the historic Nantucket Island, Annabelle and her friends must outwit two scheming thieves to solve the secret behind a legendary ghost story. The score was written by David James Nielsen.

The score opens with the simply delightful “Welcome to Nantucket / Ferry Deck with Salt” which makes me think of fantasy or fairy tale movie scores with the cheery flute motif and all the warm and joyful sounds around it; it’s whimsical and a first cue that puts me in a very good mood. The fantasy music continues but with a darker, more mysterious tone in the next cues as the ghost story starts to develop. The mystery music is enjoyable with the trembling strings that work very well and the choral mist that makes me think of haunted houses. I also like it that the composer brings exciting action motifs as well to his mystery score and the music makes me think of Andrew Lockington’s recent composition in this genre with the combination of charming fantasy, rich action and darkness. David James Nielsen brings all these elements to his music and makes it a rewarding story in itself even without the support of the images. I can relate to the characters and I can feel part of the story; I am also enjoying the varied and spectacular orchestral music. A cue like “Chase in Nantucket” gives me everything I want to hear from an action oriented orchestral piece just as “Exploring Innishall” nails the horror sound.

The best thing about this score is how meaningful and well written are all the very different sounds and moods; no matter your expectations or what genre of film music you’d like to hear in this album rest assured that it will be great music; you want horror or mystery? The score hides dense and dark motifs. You want fairy tale fantasy or action moments that have the energy and spectacle of John Powell’s “How to train your dragon” scores? You got it. There’s also beautiful and romantic solo piano themes that could become classics in “Legend of Arthur” and “Secret room”. There are separate themes for a lot of characters so “Annabelle Hooper and the Ghosts of Nantucket” is one of those dark fantasy scores that delivered on every level; it brings me joy when I hear a score so rich and complex where the composer clearly went all in with the story and his contribution. I must admit I got more from this score than I was expecting and even if I am not in the demographic for this movie, the standalone listening experience of the score was rewarding and very enjoyable.

Cue rating: 92 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 46 / 79

Album excellence: 58%

Highlights:
Welcome to Nantucket / Ferry Deck with Salt
Summer 1983
Bikes to Beadles / Nantucket by Bike
Chase in Nantucket
Legend of Arthur
Sankaty Lighthouse
Steeple
Ghost Tour Start / Argyle and Tweed Meet Silas
Silas Grimm
Dock Talk
Secret Room
Dad Boo
Eye of the Storm / Saying Goodbye
Showdown on the Ontario
Annabelle Finale and End Credits
Billy and Annabelle’s Love Theme

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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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