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BLESS THE CHILD
Massive horror music does everything you could want from a score in the genre
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2000 Paramount Pictures and World Icon Distribution Enterprises CV; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall
Just in case you hadn't been put off Bless the Child by the universally-derisive reviews, a quick look at the movie's tagline ("Mankind's Last Hope Just Turned Six") would probably inspire you to run off and do anything but watch it. The film does have a decent cast (Kim Basinger, Jimmy Smits, Rufus Sewell, Ian Holm, Christina Ricci) but Chuck Russell's movie brazenly skips around The Omen in its tale of a six-year-old girl who has been chosen by the forces of evil to destroy the world on 31 December 1999. Unfortunately because of production delays the film wasn't actually released until summer 2000, rendering it a little behind the times. Russell hasn't made a great number of good career choices since the unexpected success of his most mainstream film, The Mask in 1994, but one was choosing Christopher Young to score this. Despite his perrenial association with the horror genre, Young had only very rarely worked in it in the several years leading up to Bless the Child - but he announced his return in grandiose style with a huge, magnificent score which eclipses everything else to do with the movie.
The album is intelligently-presented as five lengthy cues, each of which is beautifully-constructed and, while self-contained, come together to form a wonderfully-organic whole. "Introitus" opens the score in suspenseful mood, with Young employing a number of unusual devices such as various exotic instruments and a deep, deep baritone soloist which add mystery and intrigue. Things get a whole lot bigger in "Kyrie Eleison", which introduces the swirling, portentous main theme which builds from modest beginnings to an almost rhapsodic conclusion. A deep-throated male choir chants away, which has an unsettling and vaguely disturbing effect - it's an ingenious device to use in a horror score. The cue concludes with a mass of dissonance, a sonic wall which grows larger and larger until eventually the forces of good (a female choir) join the battle and attempt to prevail.
"Dies Irae" is more action-dominated, with brass-heavy music bringing forth an aural pounding for the listener, one which showcases Young at his most showy and thrilling. He does still find time for some ominous piano writing in the middle of the piece, but for the most part it is barnstorming stuff, which has a ferocious intensity which is a joy to behold. "Agnus Dei" is somewhat lighter, beginning with some beautiful, soaring choral music, though it certainly doesn't last throughout, Young intriguingly balancing the light with the dark. "Lux Aetena" concludes the album, opening with some beautiful writing for voices, both for a mixed choir (first time in the score) and boy sopranos, before becoming one huge - and hugely-satisfying - rapturous finale.
Bless the Child is a particularly entertaining score - it's more obvious than many of Young's entries in the horror genre, but no less satisfying because of that. It's still intelligently-crafted, with the music actually going somewhere and having something to say. The album was released by (the now seemingly-defunct) GNP Crescendo at the time of the film, and is still available - it's an essential purchase for fans of the composer, and represents an ideal place for newcomers to find out what all the fuss is about. Highly-recommended.