It seems that if your horror movie is going to throw back to a certain time and place, so must your soundtrack. It also seems that if you're going to trade in '80s horror scores, you're going to get someone who's never done it in order to get a fresh take on the sound. Such was the case with It Follows and Disasterpeace, and so it goes with The Final Girls and Gregory James Jenkins.
In the case of the former, it worked really well because the composer was working in one solid style, whereas Jenkins has to walk a line between self-aware observation and actually scoring a fictional movie. The approach kind of works and kind of doesn't. Much like the experience of watching The Final Girls, listening to the score it's also unclear as to whether or not the score is supposed to be for the fictional Camp Bloodbath film or to The Final Girls itself.
Given that both are simultaneously comedies and slashers, it's somewhat a given that the score would slide back and forth between the two worlds of summer camp killings and sex romps. Still, while we understand the need to actually be able to score the film The Final Girls, we would've liked to have heard a film score that managed to play with the conventions of audio the way the film itself played with the all of the other aspects of being in a fictional film world – be it duration, visual style, or tropes. The one exception is Slooooow Moooootion, which turns the killer Billy's theme into a stretched-out drone.
It's a shame when the possibilities outweigh the reality, because what's actually been done by Jenkins is pretty solid on its own. Take for instance Oogling's a Word, Right?, which is the apex of '80s pop simulacra. The instrumentation could be the introduction to any number of '80s New Romantic hits, and it's absolutely dreamy.
That's how the soundtrack goes, though: it's either '80s pop or '80s horror score, and almost never the twain do meet. The sole exceptions are on the aptly titled Intercuts and Operation Boobie Trap, both of which manage to swiftly and smoothly change from swimmy, sleepy synth-pop to dirty, fuzzed-out danger.
If you divvy up the cuts Jenkins has composed, there's a fantastic horror score and a pretty great comedy score, but not really a score for the The Final Girls itself. As a singular piece on its own, the score for The Final Girls isn't as satisfying a listen as the movie is in viewing, but if you're wanting to find a few great cuts for your next mixtape you could certainly do worse.
THE FINAL GIRLS / COMPOSER: GREGORY JAMES JENKINS / LABEL: VARESE SARABANDE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (DIGITAL), DECEMBER 4TH (CD)