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Evil Dead
  • Composed by Roque Baños
  • La-La Land Records / 2013 / 71m

The marketing guys who decided that the 2013 update of Evil Dead should be presented as “the most terrifying film you will ever experience” – they were presumably not in school on the day the lesson about avoiding setting oneself up for a fall was given.  The black comedy elements that were part of what made the original movie so distinctive and popular were excluded this time (though Sam Raimi was one of this film’s producers).  Many of these 2000s-era remakes of horror classics from days gone by have received somewhat predictable scores by somewhat predictable choices of composer, so it was a nice surprise when the excellent Spanish composer Roque Baños was signed to write the score – director Fede Alvarez stuck to his guns to get the composer the job and it’s a good job he did, because his music is one of the most visceral “old-school” horror scores in the last few years, relying not on the textural ambience which has been favoured recently in an attempt to create an unsettling atmosphere – this is visceral, brutal orchestral music with one aim in mind – to scare.

There’s nothing especially original here – there are hints of Elliot Goldenthal (particularly Sphere) and Christopher Young throughout – but it’s a pleasure to hear the orchestral technique used by the composer to create his chills and thrills.  The title of the opening cue – “I’ll Rip Your Soul Out” – gives you an idea of Baños’s intentions – he uses an air-raid siren to create a chilling effect, but surrounds it with other scare tactics: a choir, used effectively throughout, whether chanting words, singing wordlessly or whispering what are far from sweet nothings; the col legno strings which are so effective and conjuring an unsettling feeling; and some extended sequences of terror employing the full forces of the large orchestra.  It pounds, pounds, pounds away like most of the finest horror scores do – occasionally offering relief, such as the more gentle theme which dominates the second cue, “Sad Memories”, being used effectively to provide breathing room when it’s needed through the score – and to great effect in the climactic “Evil Tango”.  “Come Back To Me” late in the score is a great piece of sweeping gothic romance.  But the score is dominated by some relentless action music – the nine-minute “I’ll Do What I Gotta Do” a particular highlight, an extended sequence of extremely aggressive material which is so impressive.  The 72-minute album simply flies by, with never-ending thrills – the score is one of those larger-than-life affairs that leaves you gasping for air by the time it’s over – not just showcasing the skills of a really talented composer, but providing a huge entertainment value too.  In terms of modern horror scores, this is like Christopher Young’s more outlandish efforts – in both style and quality – and is one of the most entertaining soundtrack albums of the year so far.  Sometimes the tried-and-tested methods are the best ones to use – and this is one of those times.

Rating: ****

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  1. Jonathan Ash on Wednesday 31 July, 2013 at 22:16

    I saw the movie and consider it to be the worst I’ve ever seen (I actually laughed all the time, which is not a good sign for a horror movie). However, since I’m a fan of great horror scores such as Jaws, Alien or The Omen I noticed the soundtrack in the film and wouldn’t say it was bad, BUT…
    A whispering choir? Really? Why do composers scoring horror movies keep stealing Jerry Goldsmith’s ideas?! The choir whispering these terrifying words “Sanguis bibimus, Corpus edimus” (We drink the blood, we eat the flesh) is something I will always remember- always remember as a part of The Omen and whenever I hear a choir whispering I must think of this film.
    Eventually I’d agree on the rating, at least Baños is proving he knows of the good old horror soundtracks made in the 70s and compared to the crappy stuff many composers produce nowadays this one is undoubtedly gorgeous. I’d still prefer the good old film composers (JOHN WILLIAMS FOR PRESIDENT!!!), but unfortunately there aren’t many of these left…

  2. Erik Woods on Friday 2 August, 2013 at 04:19

    A superb score to surprisingly entertaining remake.

    -Erik-

  3. orion_mk3 on Friday 2 August, 2013 at 18:17

    Your review, and Broxton’s, have made me want to check this out. No interest in the movie, as their idea of “terrifying” seems to be “hyper-gory splatterfest,” but horror scores seem to be one of the areas in which some innovation and old-fashionedness is still allowed in modern scoring.

  4. ANDRÉ - CAPE TOWN. on Saturday 3 August, 2013 at 02:00

    James, your description of the brutal energy ROQUE BANOS achieves for this score, aided by references to Goldenthal, Young & Goldsmith and a 4* rating, elevates EVIL DEAD to among Cinema’s finest esoteric scores. And Jonathan’s reference to ‘hearing’ Jerry Goldsmith’s master opus, THE OMEN, while watching the movie makes EVIL DEAD even more beguiling. THE OMEN’s chants, malicious whispering and an orchestra of vicious intensity has been successfully cloned by other composers who are using this Goldsmithian musical device to underscore not only horror movies, but other genrés too. Film – composers ‘take’ on THE OMEN never fails to excite and stimulate me and I hope they continue finding reasons to pay homagé to that Oscar winning score. Jonathan, do listen to CARL ORFF’s “O Fortuna” from CARMINA BURANA. Many music fundis regard that work as providing some of Goldsmith’s inspiration for THE OMEN.

  5. Gashoe13 on Saturday 3 August, 2013 at 05:35

    @Jonathan Ash
    Just don’t think of it as copying Goldsmith’s classic work. Think of it as homage to a master who did it perfectly.