Music is the backbone of horror films. The scoring of any horror film is what incites emotion within the viewer, when paired with the right imagery. In some cases, it is the calculated use of no sound or the exaggerated addition of volume that gets the most response. A proper soundtrack is key in order to fully mantle the story a director is trying to tell and solidify the world the film is inviting you to step into. For 2017, the explicit influence of the 80s caught on in both film and television. However, the inrush of synthy themes and bass didn’t deter others from seeking out their unique sound that was true to their film. Both routes offered audiences an auditory experience both enjoyable and invoking.
The following films have successfully told their stories and enriched their worlds through the composition of music.
- It (Composed by Benjamin Walfisch)
This had to be a winner of the year in more than one aspect. The 1980s are alive and kicking in this feature with tracks ranging from Anthrax to Siouxsie to XTC. Not to mention the riveting score that is composed of monstrous, screaming children (how’s that for horrifying?) and the shrillest strings of 2017. It could very well double as a score for games like Dead Space and The Evil Within. Creepy out the ass.
Highlights: Six Different Ways by The Cure & Deadlights
- The Blackcoat’s Daughter (Composed by Elvis Perkins)
Not sure if this can be considered 2017 but damn, is it eerie. It’s rock, it’s folk (it’s eerie folk rock). It has screams of female agony and dull cellos and haunting organs in the mix, too. It has a little bit everything and that’s what’s unnerving about it; you’re not sure what to expect but when you hear it, the chills come in waves. Much like the film cannot be unseen, the opening track cannot be unheard.
Highlights: Mare’s Milk & In the Garden
- Super Dark Times (Composed by Ben Frost)
Set in the 1990s, this under the radar flick beautifully captured the 90s feel in both style and sound. Within seconds, Bitch Magnet’s Sadie’ is roaring its way into your ears and defining the chaos that engulfs the lives of a boy and his friends. The score of ambient synth and faint feedback perfectly compliments the brief spurts of punk and nasally guitars. Frost’s score has such a heavy and defined mood that it supersedes the tension and terror radiating throughout the film. It’s like music to listen to while pretending to be in slow motion. Or in the case of Super Dark Times, frozen in a moment of incomprehensible fear.
Highlights: I Have No Maximum Velocity & Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hand by Primitive Radio Gods
- Raw (Composed by Jim Williams)
The soundtrack for Raw was supported by fast paced, electronic French-spitting club songs. Paired with Williams’ classical approach, the sound was wonderfully youthful and feminine, with just enough edge to kilter pivotal moments of suspense. With quiet pianos, banging harpsichords, and lazily strummed chords, the score alone is enough to transport you into a drama of its very own. Check out the main theme here for a sense of gorgeous dread.
Highlights: Lust & Despair, hangover & ecstasy by The Do
- Death Note (Composed by Atticus and Leopold Ross)
Think what you want about the movie, but it had a killer track list for any die hard 80s love song fan. It’s treacherously difficult to find the Ross’ score online, which ultimately means you have to watch the Netflix exclusive again. Take heed of the glorious Air Supply blaring and the electronic-violin-whimsy that makes this adaptation seem more like a weird, black comedy in the greatest respect.
Highlights: Take My Breath Away by Berlin & Main Title
Other stand out compositions of 2017 include:
The Temple of Lilith by Stephan Ortlepp
Midnighters by Chris Westlake
The Killing of the Sacred Deer by Various Artists