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Frankenstein (Halli Cauthery)

March 11, 2017

FRANKENSTEIN

Halli Cauthery, 2017, Movie Score Media
14 tracks, 35:21

There’s a new Frankenstein in town. This one spells his name like a password… Frank3n5t31n. He’s quite a special character, though he doesn’t use one in his name. That’s not safe enough… But is the score is safe hands?

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

This new Frankenstein adaptation is directed by Bernard Rose, best known for Candyman. In this modern retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic, the story is told told entirely from the perspective of the Monster. Set in contemporary Los Angeles, the artificially created named Adam is left for dead by a husband-and-wife team of eccentric scientists – yet he lives. As the monster is confronted with nothing but aggression and violence from the world around him. This perfect creation-turned-disfigured-creation must come to grips with the horrific nature of humanity, making us question who the real monster is in the process…. Frankenstein stars Xavier Samuel as Adam, Danny Huston as Dr. Victor and Candyman himself Tony Todd in the role of a blind street musician.

What does it sound like? And is it any good?

The original score is by Halli Cauthery, whom I had not heard of until now. He studied violin, viola and composition at the Yehudi Menuhin School, and obtained degrees in music from Manchester University and the University of Cambridge. Between 2006 and 2012 he worked as an assistant to Harry Gregson-Williams, contributing music to, among others, the Shrek, X-Men and Narnia franchises; other collaborators include Henry Jackman; Danny Elfman; and Brian Tyler (Iron Man 3). As a composer his most significant credits include the Netflix/Dreamworks Animation series Turbo F.A.S.T., for which he received an Emmy nomination in 2016; the 2013 thriller The East; Scared Shrekless; and Living Proof.

Talking about his score, composer Halli Cauthery notes: “For director Bernard Rose’s bold modern take on the Frankenstein story, my score weaves together a number of contrasting musical ideas: from the solemn, chant-like piece for men’s choir which represents ‘Adam’, or the monster himself; to the gentle, reflective piano theme which is representative of the idea of ‘mother’ (a key theme in the movie); as well as the low throbbing electronic pulse around which is built a number of ‘horror’-like music cues depicting the monster’s deep inner emotional turmoil as he struggles to understand and make sense of the world around him.

Cauthery’s own summation is spot on leaving little more to add, to be honest. The opening cue “Syringe” opens with fat synth sweeps that increase in volume as several distorted synth pads fade in. They increase in intensity, filling your head until they suddenly stop (a trick that’s particularly popular since Steven Price’s Gravity, though he by no means invented it of course). From the sudden silence a simple, melancholy piano theme emerges (the one for ‘mother’). This too comes to a sudden stop, then reprises, before the track returns to the distorted sweeps. I think the music takes the story’s theme of ‘distortion’ or ‘disfigurement’ quite literally, but I don’t mind. “Deserve to Die” features the solemn men’s choir Cauthery mentioned. I dare say it’s simple, but it is effective. It is joined by equally solemn strings and slow drumbeat.

Without going into too much details about which melody appears where, the score continues to alternate between graceful and terrifying moments. And whilst none of it is particularly groundbreaking, it is all very neatly done. It’s a very stylish score even at its most aggressive. There’s a very effective integration of synths (mostly pads and the odd drums), strings and choir. I’m actually not sure whether the strings are real or sampled. I vaguely suspect the latter in which case they are extremely well handled. The choir I suspect is real. But it doesn’t really matter… the whole soundscape comes together really nicely. I’d expect fans of composer’s like Harry Gregson-Williams and Craig Armstrong to be interested in this one. And I really like this combination, or juxtaposition, of horror and melancholy. It does really elevate this score above most other, more straight-forward, horror scores. There’s a story here; and I really appreciate that.

Rating [3.5/5]

For more information and samples, surf over to the Movie Score Media website.

Tracklist:

01 Syringe (3:50)
02 Deserve to Die (2:01)
03 Sensations (2:38)
04 In Pain (1:32)
05 Flight (1:59)
06 Feeding (1:53)
07 Monster Awakens (2:12)
08 Biopsy (2:28)
09 Chase (3:40)
10 Control Your Dog (2:40)
11 Muggers (2:21)
12 How We Made You (3:16)
13 Immolation (4:28)
14 Egnirys (0:56)


Review (C) 2017 Synchrotones

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