Impressive, atmospheric, and affecting are three words I would use to describe Hannah Peel’s score for the new Sky Max series The Midwich Cuckoos, the composer utilizes so many sounds that colour, and add texture to the storyline, she also adds various other elements which elevate, underline and punctuate the action on screen and bring a sense of apprehension, otherworldliness, and malevolence to the proceedings.
If you are not familiar with the storyline, it unfolds thus. Midwich, is a fictional small English commuter town, liberal and aspirational it is populated by families and affluent streets. A place where it seems not a lot happens, until that is the twilight hours of a summer’s day when a sleepy corner of Midwich is plunged into panic and confusion. People feint with no warning or reason.
Anyone who tries to enter meets the same fate. And nobody can understand why. When the mysterious blackout is lifted, life for those affected returns to normality or so it seems – except every woman of child-bearing age inside the zone has suddenly and inexplicably fallen pregnant. As news spreads and tensions simmer, it is up to a gifted psychotherapist Dr Susannah Zellaby portrayed by Keeley Hawes to help support those affected. Susannah’s own daughter, Cassie (Synnøve Karlsen), has fallen pregnant and Susannah harbours deep concerns about who, or what, is behind this phenomenon. Local officer DCI Paul Haynes (Max Beesley) is tasked with maintaining order but unbeknownst to them all, a terrifying force is building in Midwich.
These children – potential parasites – flourish under the very love and care that their families give them. Who are these children? And what do they want? I am sure you remember the classic British movie Village of the Damned (1960) which was based upon the John Wyndham novel The Midwich Cuckoos. Director John Carpenter also filmed the story in 1995.
The score is just as sinister as the children themselves, with Hannah Peel fashioning wonderfully haunting soundscapes that become an integral part of the unfolding story. There is no doubt that this is a sinister and chilling tale, but the score makes it even more so and takes things to another level, the music and sounds becoming the darkness and the light that is within the series.
The surprising thing with the score is that although it is such an important part of the series and does its job marvellously as a film score, it also at the same time is wonderfully entertaining to listen to as just music. The composer using voices effectively to create moments that are haunting, alluring, and spiritual along the way. This is an inventive, innovative and polished work. Lets hope we hear more from Hannah Peel very soon. Highly recommended.