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Enjoyable old-fashioned horror score
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
Just when I wondered what was missing from my life, I realised that it was a horror movie in which a woman goes around disproving miracles and the like but ends up being able to defeat evil spirits only by going all Christian. Fortunately, my prayers have been answered, and the movie's now here - The Reaping, passing along the friendly Christian message that if you don't believe, you'll be horribly killed. It was a flop even though somehow they got Hilary Swank to star in it; less surprising was the choice of composer, John Frizzell, who is rarely far away when a trashy horror movie comes along.
After a somewhat innocuous opening ("The Incident in Chile" is pleasant enough, but hardly anything fresh, and "The Call from Costigan" with its samples and loops makes one fear yet another Z-grade horror score like all the others we've suffered recently) the music takes an unexpected turn for the better - "Trip to Haven" introduces an excellent piano theme which is quite pleasant in its way, but with an underbelly of ominous intent, and also features a Goldsmithian flute theme which might not break any new ground but is very effective in its way. "River of Blood" introduces the choir, which plays more of a role as the score develops, and arches around with dramatic intent.
"Katherine's Story" is written in a semi-romantic fashion, and surprisingly heartfelt in its emotional impact. When approaching the more overtly scary sequences, the score is a bit of a mixed bag - the earlier sections are generally of the aforementioned synth / sample / orchestral mumbling type, and are easily disposable; but later on the music takes on an almost apocalyptic feel, with grand choral gestures accompanying the increasingly bold orchestra, and while this style might have been done many times before, it's still good to hear it done well, as Frizzell does here. "Karen Reaches for Lauren" is very dramatic, with the female chorus a worthy additive (choirs have become so overused in film scores they have virtually lost their impact, but when used sparingly can still pack quite a punch). "Locusts", which might come from The Omen, is a particular highlight. The other action music, without the choir, is also handled well - "Katherine Believes / Costigan Burns", for instance, is an exciting piece.
So, there's a lot to like about this score. It's so nice to hear a score like this written by a composer willing to hold himself back, but not to the extent that he's just providing an ambient soundscape. When it's all put together it somehow doesn't seem to add up to quite what it might, however, with so much of it sounding much like other horror scores - some great, some not so great - of the past. Fans of scores for films in this genre will probably like it a lot despite the absence of any particular USP, but those of a slightly more demanding nature - while likely to enjoy it - might perhaps find there's just a little too much substance missing.