Latest reviews of new albums:
The Woman in Black
  • Composed by Marco Beltrami
  • Silva Screen / 2012 / 55:28

Based on Susan Hill’s popular novel (also the subject of a popular stage adaptation), The Woman in Black sees Daniel Radcliffe get his most notable non-Potter role to date, playing a lawyer staying in a house in which strange things start happening.  Marco Beltrami and Christopher Young seem to alternate on films like this, and it was Beltrami’s turn this time.  Having scored as many horror films as he has, it would be asking a lot to expect him to keep on coming up with something fresh and different, and indeed for The Woman in Black he pulls out a lot of familiar tricks.  However, the reason he does all these films is that he’s good at them – hence those familiar tricks are ones worth hearing.  This is not one of his more grandiose entries in the genre, relying generally on subtler gestures, so it is more likely to reward the more patient listener.

Beltrami opens the score with a classic piece of horror writing, playing a sweet lullaby over the top of a bed of dissonant strings.  It’s a tried-and-tested technique, and done very effectively here.  The score’s main theme is introduced in the second track – relatively simple, but it serves as a binding force and provides for some of the most satisfying melodic moments.  There are hints of Beltrami’s one-time teacher, Jerry Goldsmith, at times – in particular Poltergeist, and in particular during the score’s standout cue, “Into the Fire”, in which Beltrami releases all the tension that’s been building up through the album for a piece of genuine scale.  There’s a lot of good stuff here, but where the album falters is that there are a few moments of fairly cheap thrills, with orchestral (and occasionally electronic) stingers that don’t work particularly well on album.  With those 15 minutes or so chopped out this could have been a real corker of an album – as it is, it’s still an impressive one, definitely recommended to fans of the composer and of horror movie music.  *** 1/2 |

Tags: , ,

  1. André-Cape Town. (Reply) on Tuesday 14 August, 2012 at 18:12

    I’ve just viewed this Gothic horror movie & will NOT be purchasing the CD. When is Beltrami going to avoid using those clichéd ambient structures that he continually underscores suspense & tension sequences with? Movies such as ‘Hurt Locker’-‘Knowing’-‘Max Payne’-‘The Omen’- ‘Cursed’ & now ‘Woman in Black’ all bear Beltrami’s repetive> tired and uninspired attempts at film music. His score doesn’t capture the bleakness nor the desolation of the film’s location…there is no music that captures the love & grief that the Daniel Radcliffe’s lawyer experiences for his family…and the one frightening theme{ a pounding, percussive banging heard in the house} is a rip-off from ‘The Haunting of Hill House’. Beltrami should watch ‘Half – Light’ {a low-key supernatural drama} and listen to Brett Rosenberg crafting a superior horror score without having to rely on overused ambient textures. Beltrami’s ‘3.10 to Yuma’ is his only score that I often listen to-and is testimony to his closeted talent.

  2. Mastadge (Reply) on Thursday 16 August, 2012 at 01:37

    André, I advise you to try — if you haven’t already — The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and In the Electric Mist, two of his other distinctive non-horror/thriller scores. I’d also recommend Hellboy, which is a bit funkier, more playful, and grander than most of his other genre fare.

  3. André-Cape Town. (Reply) on Thursday 16 August, 2012 at 12:44

    Mastadge – thanx for the BELTRAMI recommendations> James Southall’s reviews certainly agree with your enthusiasm. Hopefully, Screen Archives have CD samples I can listen to. Due to copyright gridlocking, MP3 downloads are not available in South Africa,so I have to rule that out. I’ll also be on the lookout for DVD copies…bought ‘Season of the Witch’ just to hear ATLI ÖRVARSSON’s dynamic choral/orchestral score with its Goldsmithian references > maybe LaLaLand will release a CD someday.