Short notes on new fantasy, sci-fi, and horror scores

by Randall D. Larson

TOTAL RECALL (2012)
Harry Gregson-William’s score, with a few exceptions, offers little new to the musical approach besides a run-of-the-mill hybrid of percussive action riffing, but it does serve the film well and generates plenty of additional excitement to the chase.

VAMPS (2012)
A pretty lame comedy and another low in the ongoing sterilization of the vampire film.  David Kitay (amusingly credited as “David Kitaygorodsky” in the end credits) provides an effective if rather innocuous score.

PARANORMAN (2012)
This is a fine fantasy tale beautifully animated with the classic stop-motion style.  Jon Brion provides a winning score that moves from the cute pastiche of ‘80s horror film electronica for the opening, through massive, surging crescendos as the zombies rise and the witches’ curse is invoked, to the sublimely heartfelt denouement as multiple characters find redemption. 

THE DAY (Canada, 2011)
A very taut post-apocalypse survival tale as a group of five survivors band together to avoid the cannibalistic human predators who hunt them for sustenance. Prolific music production team Rock Mafia (film directed Doug Aarniokoski directed one of their music videos prior to this film; thus the connection) provides a mostly electronic/rock score that, except for one unnecessary slasher-movie style stinger, adds a pervasive mood and heightens the film’s growing tension.

THE AWAKENING (UK, 2011)
A likable ghost story set in 1921 England. Daniel Pemberton’s score is very nice, a finely-crafted work of intricate beauty and haunting lyricism.

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