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Carefully-constructed thrills and chills from Young
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 1995 Milan Records; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall
Jon Amiel's 1995 serial killer movie Copycat isn't bad as far as these things go - it's certainly an above-average thriller, if nothing else, and Sigourney Weaver is good in the lead role. It was Amiel's first collaboration with composer Christopher Young, and it evidently left a good impression on the director since he has since hired Young for everything else he's done (outside television), producing the great action score The Core amongst other things.
Young was finally beginning to escape the horror movie typecasting which had followed him through his career when he did Copycat - and it's interesting to note how he approached the film, scoring it almost as if it was a horror. The main title introduces the electrifying main theme, a classic Young piece which manages to be almost lustfully attractive on the surface, but always with a distinctly edgy undercurrent. The six-minute "Shoot Him or Stick Him" which follows is not entirely focused, but features some fantastic music, including those slashing strings for which the composer is so renowned. After a brief interlude with the lovely piano theme "Housebound", the chills return, never more so than in the thunderous "Murder's an Art" which doesn't just feature some first-rate action thriller writing but concludes with the kind of modal string work which has been such an impressive feature of several of the composer's finest scores.
The overriding intention of Young here is hypnosis - using dense orchestrations but allowing instruments like the piano (even when not carrying the melody), short violin solos or even just some bells to rise above the orchestral density and add a distinctly creepy effect. It's masterful film composition, even though the effect can sometimes be so unsettling that it can become really quite hard to listen! Occasionally Young is more direct, such as with "Pastoral Horror" which features sustained passages of this dense writing, creating almost unbearable suspense, before a massive scream from brass and percussion comes along now and again - enough to give you a heart attack!
The album is really well put-together - after the intensity of "Pastoral Horror", putting in "Silhouette", a reprise of the gentle piano theme from earlier in the score, is just the right thing to do. Album sequencing these days is more often than not about sticking as many tracks as possible on, in chronological order, which is rarely the best way of presenting a film score; Young is one of the exceptions who really thinks about how his music should best be heard. After the vaguely jazzy piano, the following piece is introduced by a deep, rumbling piano and turns out to be another fine action/suspense track.
After the suspenseful "Who's Afraid?" Young closes the score with a reprise of the wonderful main theme in "Lay Me Down". While not quite top-drawer Young, this isn't too far behind, and is further indication (as if it were needed) that he's capable of writing far more interesting music than most people for this type of thriller. Recommended.