Netflix continues to produce very different and very interesting series and movies. Only this week I have been watching The Letter to the King which is a fast-paced adventure that has a good score by composer Brendon Campbell which is not yet available on CD or on digital platforms but I sure it will be soon. I also watched Nightbooks which is a dark kind of children’s horror, but I don’t think its suitable for children and certainly has some scenes that will scare the hell out of hardened horror fans and will raise your heart and pulse rate somewhat with its plethora of scary jumps.

The score for this movie is by the unstoppable Michael Abels, who’s score for the movie US I still listen to regularly. Horror of the mysterious is certainly a genre that the composer excels in scoring, he manages to create attractive thematic material and interweaves this with atonal and chilling elements to create works that are affecting and highly effective. The film focuses upon Alex (Winslow Fegley) a young boy who is obsessed with horror and writes scary stories but is determined to burn them suddenly.

But before he gets the chance, he’s lured into a magical apartment with a piece of pumpkin pie and The Lost Boys, then locked into a situation that has him writing for his life. The film is based upon J. A. White’s 2018 book of the same name, and is a dark fairy tale I suppose, and features a rather fashion-conscious Witch, Natacha portrayed wonderfully by Krysten Ritter who tells Alex that he must write a new scary tale every night to stay alive and holds him prisoner.

But when Alex meets up with another captive Yasmin played by Lidya Jewett the pair begin to try and find a way out of their situation and escape an apartment that is used to trap children forever. The composer has produced an effective score and provides the already jumpy and scary storyline with a underlining and punctuating soundtrack.

The score opens with a rendition of the song Cry Little Sister originally used in The Lost Boys, this new arrangement is straight away engaging, and is performed by The Chvrches, who bring so much to the song and dare I say I found it even more effective than the original which was performed by Gerard McMann. The appeal of this new version is that I think it has to it a certain innocence, the lead vocal being female giving it a more melodic but at the same time sinister persona. At times I was reminded of the style of the band Evanescense and their hit single Bring me to Life and also hints of the style of British vocalist Sophie Ellis-Bextor it has that same atmospheric, ghostly, sweet, but also dark. The Chvrches consist of Lauren Mayberry who provides the haunting vocals on the opening song, Iain Cook, Martin Doherty and, unofficially since 2018, Jonny Scott. Mostly deriving from the synth-pop genre, Chvrches also incorporate indietronica, indie pop, and electronic dance into their sound.

As I say I was impressed at the use of this already well-known song on this soundtrack, and I have to say it sets the scene perfectly for the tense or should I say intense events that are depicted in the movie and is a great opening for the symphonic score by Michael Abels which is just superb. The composer once again has fashioned a foreboding sounding work which compliments and acts as an alluring but powerful accompaniment to the story and its many twists and turns. Abels is in my humble opinion one of the most talented composers working in TV and cinema nowadays, he never ceases to amaze and entertain me his music being innovative, inventive, and outstanding in every way. In the context of the film, it works so well, it is at times rather elusive because one does not realise that there is music there until it hits just at the right moment, to either compact or to elevate a scene or maybe act as a full stop or musical comma to the proceedings unfolding on screen. Nightbooks is a movie I did quite enjoy, and I think that the musical score made it an even more unsettling experience, bringing to the story a sense of fear and an unnerving mood.  

The score does its job well, enhancing, and embellishing with a commanding and at the same time lyrical air. This is one you will not want to miss, catch the movie on Netflix and the score is available on digital Platforms. Highly recommended.  

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