Apperantly Stephen King was so satisfied with the film version of his novel Dreamcatcher that he volunteered to promote the film, giving numerous interviews sharing his opinion on how great, and true to his novel, the film is. The critics and moviegoers haven't been equally impressed. Film versions of Stephen King's more horror oriented novels rarely work. Adaptions of his more down to earth novels usually do, successful films such as The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me being good examples. But Dreamcatcher is not one of those films, as it deals with alien parasites referred to as "Shitweasels", more or less crazy military officers and big government cover ups. And in the middle of it all are four men, played by Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Damian Lewis (from Band of Brothers) and Timothy Oliphant, and their relationship and somewhat supernatural connection with Duddits, played by Donnie Wahlberg.
Many probably expected James Newton Howard to write a large and bombastic orchestral score for this film. I did. But that's not what we got. Dreamcatcher is a creepy horror score, filled with quiet and uneasy underscore interrupted by occasional orchestral outbursts. Howard uses a fairly large orchestra and also adds electronics and choir to the mix. It's a rather typical horror score with large portions of underscore and a couple of exciting action cues, "Henry Returns to the Cabin", for example, which features some aggressive brass and strings, and "Curtis and Owen Battles". The electronics add an interesting touch to the music, and Howard makes use of both eerie samples (for tense underscore) and electronic beats and percussion (for the action), but overall this is a rather bland score. At least on CD.
The lack of a memorable theme is a little disappointing. (Hey, I like themes, ok?) There is a minor, slow theme, which shows up in a couple of cues ("The Weasel" and "Curtis and Owen Battles" for example) performed by low strings, but it's nothing to write home about, unfortunately, and is easy to miss completely.
Horror and suspense scores are often hard to fully appreciate on CD, with no visuals to support the music (or, wait... isn't it supposed to be the other way around?) and Dreamcatcher is no exception. A little disappointing.