I am told that there is a fine line when it comes to scoring horror movies, it’s a case of getting the sounds and the actual timing correct. There have been some superb movies within the genre that have equally compelling scores but as with everything there are one or two examples which go OTT and even have been said to spoil the overall effect of the movie, with either too much music or even music that just goes too far. DOGGED is a horror film that was released this year (2018) it is a harrowing but at the same time a must-see film. The score by composer James Griffiths falls into the category of being superb. It is a classy and totally absorbing soundtrack, the composer utilising crashing sounds and at times grating effects which in my opinion are necessary. But at the heart of the work are some interesting and attractive sounding pieces. It’s a score that is not fully symphonic as one can appreciate because its storyline is set in present times, the film is violent and even brutal in places. The musical score does much to elevate the action and lends itself wonderfully to supporting and punctuating the scenario that is unfolding upon the screen.
This is a taught, stressful and vexing work. The composer has fashioned virulent sounding themes and sounds that put the listener and the watching audience on edge. The music working wonderfully within the movie but also having a kind of twisted and tormenting attraction away from the film. The composer’s music is at times disturbing and atonal, but it also has to it a themeatic quality that shines through the dark and ominous sounds. It is an inventive and original sounding work, with symphonic and synthetic fusing seamlessly to create on one side a chaotic and harsh work and on the other a lilting and somewhat deformed fragility. I must admit to enjoying this type of scoring in horror movies these days. DOGGED is powerful and relentless and not for the faint hearted. In many ways it reminded me of the early horror scores of composer Christopher Young.
THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS, has a musical score composed by Nathan Barr, the music has a unique and innovative sound to it, the composer not only utilising conventional instrumentation, but turning to a Wurlitzer organ which was originally built for Fox studios in 1928. The composer spent five years restoring and re-building this incredible instrument and on listening to the score for THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS I have to say it was certainly worth all the effort and the love that must have gone into the project. The soundtrack has its own original sound and lends its style and overall sound to the movie, enhancing and supporting as the plot unfolds. In fact, I would say that the score is more than just a supportive element of the production, but more like an important and highly integral component of the movie. The expressiveness and energy of the music creating an otherworldly and at times mystical atmosphere. I am not sure how much of a role that the Wurlitzer took as in what percentage of the music and sounds were created via it, but it certainly has given the work a resounding and haunting musical heart and sound. The music is filled with a magical and mysterious persona.
Dramatic and fast paced at times this is an entertaining soundtrack and one that in my opinion is up there with the Harry Potter scores as well as having to it its own individuality. The richness of the music shining through and attracting the listener holding their attention throughout. It has an almost impish or mischievous quality about it and I think therefore making it such an alluring score, the composer being inventive as always in his approach to scoring and orchestrating the music. The final track on the soundtrack THE MIGHTY WURLITZER is a grand and awesome sounding cue and within it I sensed the sounds and styles of the golden age of the film score, its powerful and growling sound arousing one’s interest, but then the instrument is heard performing lighter or more melancholy passages and themes, showing its versatility.
I have to say that this is a score that is awash with themes both dramatic and lush and it certainly does evoke a sound and style of film music from a bygone age. It could be Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Newman or Miklos Rozsa we are listening to here. Entertaining, mesmerising and fun. Highly recommended.
Documentaries are becoming increasingly popular amongst television audiences, it seems also that documentaries or series on wildlife or animals in general are also being viewed more and more in recent years. Maybe it is a growing awareness of the way in which we as human beings treat animals and of the now urgent knowledge that we are in fact poisoning this wonderful planet we share with the amazing creatures that were here before us and because of the way in which we disrespect the Earth and the environment we are indeed causing all animals hardship and distress. The Horse is a beautiful creature and one that is in my opinion is man’s best friend alongside the dog. Horses have been around for thousands of years, they have worked with us, fought alongside us, loved us, died with us and been innocent victims of so many conflicts that humans have engaged in, likewise they have been the target of cruelty and neglect. But, no matter how cruelly we as a race treat these magnificent creatures they still trust us and are devoted to us. It’s a pity that we or at least some of us do not consider them or respect them as they truly deserve to be. A recent television series is EQUUS-STORY OF THE HORSE, which explores the horse and its role alongside humans and the lasting relationship between, man, women children and the horse. To underline and support this gracious and compelling series composer Darren Fung (THE GREAT HUMAN ODYSSEY, JUST BURIED) has written a suitably majestic yet humbling sounding musical score. The work is overflowing with a powerful array of themeatic material and has an impressive and lingering sound that tantalises, excites and inspires one when listening to it. The emotive and poignant leitmotifs weave in and out of the work, at times they can be soaring or sweeping and grandiose and on other occasions the composer employs a more intimate sound and style, which is delicate and purveys a fragility and near celestial mood. Choir is also employed throughout and gives each cue a warmth and a sense of strength. The score is symphonic in the main, piano and woods are at times utilised in conjunction with solo violin that in turn is embellished by voices to fashion a touching and elegant musical persona. There are also cues with relay a comedic or lighter sound and style as in THE EMOTIONAL LIVES OF HORSES, which is understated but affecting. I love the way in which the composer uses piano and subdued strings to weave haunting tone poems, but there is far much more to this score in the way of interesting instrumentation and orchestration. The composer adding percussive elements and ethnic instruments for key tracks on the soundtrack as in MONGOLIA and powerful brass and booming percussion on cues such as HORSEPOWER to which he adds choir and driving strings.
Then we have THOROUGHBREDS, which initially starts in a semi-Coplandish style with Americana sounding strings, these soon melt away and allow a softer more subdued style to take centre stage but this too is short lived with the cue altering direction as the track begins to build with percussion and strings that slowly gather pace only for them to give way to plaintive sounding piano and underlying subtle strings. The composer also utilises cymbalom from time to time which is a nice touch and one that keeps the work fresh and vibrant. EQUUS-STORY OF THE HORSE for me is a joy and a delight, it is a beautiful and wonderous and varied musical journey and a score that I know will attract much attention.