It is a strange thing that up until around a decade ago record labels were not that enthusiastic to release scores from Horror movies, even though film music fans were crying out for them to be released. It seems in the past ten years or so it is the horror score that is keeping the film music market alive and kicking, with more and more soundtracks from chillers and slashers being released.
The labels are even releasing scores from older movies that did not see daylight when they were released, which is great for collectors and horror fans alike. Just looking through the latest releases I was surprised just how many horror scores are on offer, most being available on digital platforms, but the digital or streaming market too has grown especially with the pandemic and people spending more time at home and record shops and CD outlets being closed. I think the record labels also use digital platforms and the number of downloads etc of individual soundtracks to decide whether or not a compact disc release is worthwhile for them. Also, companies such as Netflix and Amazon etc have increased horror tale production and thus the viewing numbers also grow, so because the interest in the movies or series becomes greater it follows also that the demand for the soundtracks to them also does. So, are you sitting comfortably? Then let us begin with a horror score.
Le Game or The Binding is an Italian production for Netflix, and it is a harrowing and very edgy viewing experience, but it is the music that at times makes the film even more uneasy and unsettling. The score by Italian composer Massimilliano Mechelli is in a word superb, it underlines the already malevolent atmosphere of the movie and heightens and expands the apprehension and the uncertainty of the storyline. This is a modern-day horror film score that has to it classic and grandiose proportions. A fusion of symphonic and electronic it is a work that oozes both virulent and calming interludes, an intelligent and absorbing score that everyone should at least take a listen to. There is an eerie and disturbing undercurrent throughout the work that keeps the listener alert as to what it coming next, but also in certain areas lulls the listener into a false sense of security, calming them before musically leaping out upon them.
This is a wonderfully atmospheric score that supports the on-screen tension, but at the same time creates a tension all of its own. The composer realizing a highly original sound and experimenting with sounds and styles, recommended.
The next score is not really a horror movie, but verges upon it, Ilargi Guztiak, was released in 2020, with composer Pascal Gaigne’s brilliant score being released in 2021 by Quartet records and is also available on digital platforms, anything that this composer touches seems to turn to gold, he is probably one of the most talented and inventive composers working in cinema today. The movie which is categorized as a Sci-Fi/Fantasy is an interesting and entertaining one.
Set in the dying days of the last Carlist War which took place in Spain, a young girl is rescued from an orphanage by a woman who lives deep in the forest. Wounded because of an explosion and feeling that she is on the verge of death, the little girl believes that she sees an angel in her rescuers, who has come to keep her safe and transport her to paradise. The score is both dramatic and romantic sounding, it has to it a double-edged sword musically with the composer creating both fearful and ominous sounds that he interweaves with dramatic and lush sounding passages, the score also contains a fragility and a style that can be deemed as intimate and calming.
All elements of which are presented in the cue Despetares, which has to it a delicate and lilting mood but is underlined with a sense of the foreboding. The composer also puts to effective use solo piano, soprano voice and solo violin in places, the latter is heartrending especially in the cue La Piel. This is a haunting and mystical work at times and has to it a sound and style that I am certain will appeal to all.
Attack on the Titan is a Japanese manga series for TV, which has a score that is a mix of orchestral, synthesised and both rock infused vocal tracks and more ballad led examples is worth a listen. The score as in the orchestral content which dominates the duration of the release is by composers Kohta Yamamoto and Hiroyuki Sawano is grand but at the same can be upbeat and vibrantly pulsating, adding excitement and a greater sense of determination to the central characters fight. There is also a more charming and fragile side to the work which at times evokes the early compositions of Ryuichi Sakamoto and the elegance and melodious works of Joe Hisaishi as in Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence and Howls Moving Castle respectively.
The plot focuses upon a young hero, Eran Jaegar who is determined to have his revenge upon the giant Titan humanoids who killed his mother and devastated his town. The score is an integral part of the series, adding a persona that is both ingratiating and rich to the proceedings. This I think would have to be my pick of the soundtrack supplement number forty-six as it is such a lyrical, varied and appealing listen. With its commanding and action led cues to its more intimate and melodious content, this is one for you, most certainly.
Dirty Fears is a 2021 Italian horror, which has received mixed reviews most of them being negative, however the score by composers Giovanni Bruschi and Rodolfo Matulich is worth a mention here. Ok its probably not the best horror score in the world but look what the composers had to work with. The music is suitably apprehensive and is a performed by a handful of conventional instrumentation with most of the soundtrack being realised via electronic means and samples.
It has to it an almost 1990’s vibe, and reminded me of some of the horror scores as written by Italian Maestro Pino Donaggio who was a master of combining symphonic and synthetic, the composers also put to good use a music box sound in a way that can be linked to the films as scored by Goblin, which for me always adds a certain creepiness to any horror film. Check it out for yourself on digital platforms.
Another interesting score is for the drama Lansky, which concentrates upon aging Meyer Lansky who is being investigated by the FBI who suspect he has hidden away millions of dollars for over fifty years. The former gangster relates to the authorities a dazzling story that gives them the answers to his past life when he was the boss at murder inc. The music is by Max Aruj, who provides the movie with a wonderfully atmospheric soundtrack, never encroaching upon the storyline but always adding depth and setting the mood correctly, the subtle undertones perfectly punctuate and support the drama and are also an entertaining listen as just music, often reminding me of the style of Thomas Newman.
Aruj has also scored The Ice Road, which is the latest knock em down and drag em out movie for actor Liam Neesom on Netflix. This time the style of the music is somewhat different as it conveys a much more full and richer persona. With the composer providing subtle but at the same time powerful thematic material that is slow in some cases to build but effects a great atmospheric presence providing suitable support for the story that is unfolding on screen. Two for you too check out as both are on digital platforms.
I watched Sweet Tooth on Netflix and have to say really liked it, the score by the multitalented Jeff Grace is I think one of the most inventive and original sounding scores for a series that I have savoured for a while, this is a soundtrack I could listen to all day, well I did the other day actually, it is so good because it has such a varied content, lilting and melancholy themes alongside dramatic and action led pieces, and apprehensive and subtle nuances all of which combine to create a score that not only enhances and supports effectively but is just so entertaining to listen to on its own.
Again, on digital platforms so there is no excuse for you to sample the delights of this composer. Recommended.
Too Late is a comedy/horror, now there’s a combination, horror with comedy and both genres I have been told are probably the hardest to score by many composers, so when you combine the two what happens\? Well if you let Mikel Hurwitz loose on your production as composer then magic happens that’s what. This may be a short score (duration just thirty-three minutes) but the composer crams everything he possibly can into that time and makes effective use of the time and the elements at his disposal. The opening theme is a master stroke of scoring, having to it an urgency but also purveying a sense that this should not really be taken the seriously. The composer utilises harpsichord flourishes in some of the cues alongside accordion and cymbalom, which creates a somewhat original sound for a horror, there are also percussive elements within the mix, but I think it’s the madcap pace of some of the compositions that is the appeal of this score, check it out its different and its fun. Oh, while you are there take a listen to Up There which he scored in 2019.
Staying with comedy/horror (well why not) Werewolves Within, is something that will be in cinemas soon, and is a film adaptation of the already popular video game where we see werewolves attack an isolated town. Music is by Anna Drubich, who worked on Scary Stories to tell in the Dark and has also recently scored The Optimists. Werewolves within is a great horror score, which is I have to say quite subdued until about midway through, then it kind of wakes up and erupts into a more action led score, but I suppose this is when the action starts to kick off a little more in the movie.
One can hear little hints of comedic scoring within the score, and it also has to it a breathy almost subtle ambience, but when we get to cues such as The Pipe Fight and She’s Probably Tanked that we are treated to a more driving sounds taking the high ground and becoming a powerful and effective style and overall sound, there is a fearful atmosphere that is laced with a somewhat mischievous element. It’s a good score, one to add to your collection may be?