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LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
Fine horror score with a beauty of a main theme
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2008 EFTI; review copyright (c) 2009 James Southall.
It is no longer a surprise when I open a MovieScore Media album which contains the score for a film I've never heard of, written by a composer with whose work I am completely unfamiliar, and find a work of high quality and class; it has happened so frequently. Now, it's happened again. As with many MMS releases, it's from a horror movie, this time a Swedish film about a young boy in Stockholm who finds out he's living next door to a young girl who's a vampire. It got outstanding reviews, but its total US box office take was less than 1% of the other vampire-themed film which opened at the same time, Twilight (which did not get outstanding reviews).
The score is by Swedish composer Johan Söderqvist, whose career has now lasted for almost twenty years, almost exclusively working on films from his homeland. If this score is indicative of his talents then I'm very sorry I haven't discovered them before - classy and accomplished, at times vaguely unsettling and at others completely captivating. In his brief liner notes, Söderqvist speaks of the score consisting of both darkness and light, and that's absolutely right - it's not necessarily anything new for a horror score, but it's the way the composer achieves it which makes it so impressive - the darkness is never fully dark; the light always seems to be on the verge of clouding over.
The highlight is the outstanding "Eli's Theme", a rare beauty of a melody. Eli is the vampire, and Söoderqvist presents her as a romantic, loving character with a blackness lurking inside. It reminds me a little of some of Angelo Badalamenti's more melodic writing, especially when presented in its guitar arrangement (there is also an impressive version for piano heard a couple of times). 2008 didn't produce a large number of memorable film themes (to say the least), but here's a great one, almost certainly at the top of the list.
Elsewhere, I guess one could say Söderqvist employs more "standard" horror scoring, but that is not meant as a slur. The dissonant sections are effective, with the relatively small-sounding orchestra (it's listed as a symphony orchestra, but I suspect was reduced to chamber-sized dimensions for this recording) augmented by synth textures - it doesn't provide a novelty, but the composer pulls it off more than adequately, to provide a fine complement to the sections of the score which provide that surprise. Let the Right One In is high quality indeed, a highly-recommended release, particularly if you're looking to find some great film music from off the beaten track.