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JACK BROOKS: MONSTER SLAYER
Hugely enjoyable OTT horror movie score
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2008 Ryan Shore; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall.
A comedy horror film, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer has been described as a kind of throwback to 1950s horror movies. One thing that's changed in a big way between then and now (on films like this) is the use of music - gone largely is the opportunity for composers to work with large symphony orchestras, instead often having to rely on synthesisers to produce music which is textural rather than the exciting stuff composers like Hans J. Salter and Frank Skinner used to write for the monster movies. The great news is that we have an exception here, as composer Ryan Shore has been able to utilise a large symphony orchestra for his music.
The previous Shore release with which I'm familiar - Headspace - was also from a horror film, but this one couldn't be more different. That score was psychological, tense and unnerving; this one is flat-out exciting. It's fair to say that Shore does not hold back in unleashing the forces of his 93-piece Bratislavan orchestra. Early on there does seem to be a nod to the old monster movie scores in the way the brass doubles with the strings and this is great to hear, but thereafter Shore does keep things pretty modern.
"Professor Crowley" introduces a great, comically sinister theme which is quite delightful; always good when it recurs through the score. Much of the score though is large-scale action music - done with the greatest of panache. I suppose you might compare it with say Alan Silvestri's Van Helsing, but this is far superior. Like that score, this one is pretty relentless; but unlike that one, it's composed in a way which isn't going to leave you with a headache after listening to it. Indeed, in a year in which good film music from more established composers has been thin on the ground it's great to be able to hear such a fine album from slightly further away from the beaten track. Highly recommended.