Latest reviews of new albums:
The Call
  • Composed by John Debney
  • Lakeshore Records / 2013 / 63m

The Call is a serial killer drama starring Halle Berry, from The Machinist director Brad Anderson.  Berry plays a 911 operator who begins to piece things together based on the calls she has received about young girls being abducted.  The music is written by the ever-busy John Debney, a man capable of occasional brilliance (demonstrated – in very diverse fashion – in Cutthroat Island and The Passion of the Christ).  He gamely tackles any genre put in front of him and is held in very high regard by his directorial collaborators for delivering precisely what they ask for (a fact borne out when you look at the number of “rescue jobs” he’s done by writing additional music for films whose original scores didn’t quite work for whatever reason).

What director Anderson wanted for The Call was a score that stresses absolute horror and tension all along the way, with not even a hint of warmth or optimism anywhere – and that’s precisely what Debney delivered.  I haven’t seen the film yet but can imagine this music being remarkably effective – it’s entirely electronic and the composer uses all sorts of effects to manipulate sounds and produce a constantly chilling accompaniment to the images.  Listening to it makes the listener squirm – whether through more conventional passages with sampled orchestra, or the surprisingly relentless periods of industrial percussion.  It’s terror all the way.  And I have to say, it makes for a quite hideous listening experience.  It’s always very hard to be harsh on a score like this, which is blatantly exactly what the film needed – it just doesn’t work as an album.  Those who don’t mind going to the extremes of dark, textural atmospheres may well find material here that is greatly rewarding to them; but I suspect most people will be full of admiration for the professional job the composer has done, but will never want to listen to the album again.

Rating: * | |

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  1. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Friday 30 August, 2013 at 16:53

    I can’t help but feel that if this score had come from any of the Remote Control composers you wouldn’t have given it any stars at all, and wouldn’t have been nearly as kind in your “it’s what the film needed” concessions, either.

  2. James Southall (Reply) on Saturday 31 August, 2013 at 00:44

    I don’t agree with your first point but you’re probably right with the second. Debney’s earned enough respect from me to deserve that much, I think. If some Remote Control composer writes the equivalent of Cutthroat Island or Lair then they’ll earn my future respect (and concessions if they subsequently do something awful) too!

  3. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Saturday 31 August, 2013 at 10:17

    I guess I can understand that. But for me it applies to the RC guys as well. Steve Jablonsky has written Steamboy, which I love, and which is the reason why I still have a spark of hope for the new scores he brings out. Same with Atli Orvarsson and his handful of strong cues from Babylon A.D., The Eagle etc…it allows me to gloss over the Evidences and Hansel & Gretels of this world in order to really enjoy, say, The Mortal Instruments.