SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK, what a superbly unsettling title, it leaves little to the imagination realy one just knows these are going to be deliciously jumpy and filled with fearsome and unnerving elements. But like all horror movies, TV series etc, the role of the composer and his score is so important. This movie has been well hyped and much anticipated and when it was announced that composer Marco Beltrami was on board things got even more interesting.
Beltrami we all know started to get noticed via his operatic and dramatic sounding soundtracks for The SCREAM franchise, and also for wonderfully powerful scores for fairly low budget affairs such as THE FACULTY and THE MINUS MAN, the composer has graduated to being an A list Maestro and has worked on a number of highly successful motion pictures such as HELLBOY,TERMINATOR 3,UNDERWORLD EVOLUTION and the re-boot of THE OMEN. But he is more than a composer of music for horror films as his glowing CV displays, working on over a hundred assignments all varying genres. SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK is a collaboration between Beltrami and another gifted but not that well known composer Anna Drubich who has worked on over 40 assignments including TV series and motion pictures.
Born in Moscow where she began to play piano aged eight, She, has scored movies such as ANNA KARENINA (2009), BOLSHOY (2017) and ODESSA (2019). With two such talented composers working on SCARY STORIES the music cannot fail to be appealing and commanding, it is an interesting score as in although it is atonal in many areas it also holds within it an attraction and an alluring thematic musical identity. All the horror trademarks are present, crashing and tumbling effects that are supported by strings and growling brass, eerie sounding half heard sounds that entice and then jump out on you as if from nowhere, and there is an underlying dark and shadowy presence that is even lurking within the more lilting and relaxed cues, it is if it is trying to tell the audience and the listener that all is not as relaxed as it looks on screen or sounds on the films soundtrack. The score makes effective use of racing and urgent sounding percussive elements that themselves are pushed and driven along via strange and unusual orchestrations and instrumentation, which to be honest makes this even more interesting and compelling. There is another sound or style present that seems to run under the main score, it is a virulent and fearsome component but works well as a kind of sub theme or a variant of the score, fusing and at times sounding as if it is fighting with the main themes to create an atmosphere that is filled with dread and also one that seeps through and unleashes a chaotic but deadly slice of foreboding which spreads and eventually overflows.
The use of female voice within the score is highly effective, it conjures up an otherworldly mood which is beautiful and effecting and contains an emotive quality, but at times becomes somewhat harrowing and creates a nervous or unsettling atmosphere. I found the entire work entertaining and brimming with a vibrant and brooding musical persona that we so readily associate with horror scores and with the music of Beltrami when scoring movies within the horror genre. Check it out, but not alone or in the dark.