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Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
  • Composed by Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
  • Lakeshore Records / 2011 / 54:50

A remake of a 1970s horror movie (whatever next!), Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark opened and closed without much fanfare this summer, but is notable to film music fans since it continues the successful collaboration between composer Marco Beltrami and filmmaker Guillermo del Toro (who wrote and produced it).  Beltrami co-wrote the score with his long-time associate Buck Sanders, but unlike most of the scores with a prominent Sanders credit, this isn’t about texture and sound design – this is an old-fashioned, grandiose, gothic horror score – and a really good one, at that.  A big waltz opens the score and goes on to function as the main theme – it’s grand and beautiful but with just the requisite amount of creepiness.

Del Toro instructed Beltrami to take his inspiration from Goldsmith, Herrmann and Komeda and there are certainly hints of each of them – in particular, there are a few aggressive touches which certainly recall 70s Goldsmith – but Beltrami’s a pretty distinctive composer himself and there’s never any doubt that this is his music (well, his and Sanders’s – I’m not sure exactly what the nature of the collaboration is).  If the score’s first half is about the constrant between frequently child-like innocent beauty and a clear sense of impending doom – then its second is about the arrival of that doom.  There’s some frightening stuff, in particular the fantastic “Bed Bugs”; and several cues are blessed with some particularly dynamic music for strings.  Synths don’t have a big role to play, but are used inventively to add just the right amount of additional colour.  This is a strong album – the highlights are A-grade stuff and while there are parts which don’t reach that standard, it’s still a comfortable recommendation.  *** 1/2

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  1. James Southall (Reply) on Monday 31 October, 2011 at 19:23

    Hmm. Apparently the physical album has been cancelled. (You can still buy the download album – for instance, from the link above!)