Film scores

Soundtrack review: Skin trade (Jacob Groth – 2015)

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“Skin trade” is a thriller about human trafficking, set in exotic Thailand, written and starring Dolph Lundgren, one of the icons of my childhood. This is your usual revenge thriller and I might give it a go. Jacob Groth wrote the score and I remember his interesting compositions from the original Millennium trilogy. There’s been a flurry of revenge thrillers these past few years. Usually Nicholas Cage plays the hero and the movies are rarely very good. The scores now, they are a different story. There’ve been quite a few who escaped the generic trap and I found many gems.

“Skin trade” warms us up with a slim and alert action tune before diving into the dangerous underbelly of the story. “Girls in a cage” is the call of a distant horn on a dark and misty night. This cue is poignant, depressing and powerful and that constant cello motif becomes haunting very fast. Jacob Groth knows how to present the dark abyss of the human soul with his music and the subtle inflexions of this first memorable theme from “Skin trade” will make you connect instantly with the story.

The composer switches the tone with “Nick’s revenge”, a piece that goes epic and makes me want to rise and fight for something. It’s wonderfully inspirational and not overly complex which makes it even easier to take with you. This is an actual hummable and memorable theme and I wasn’t expecting to find one in “Skin trade”. The music is alive and it takes different shapes as the minutes pass. The percussion, the piano and then the return of the main theme make this cue a must listen. I actually felt the need to stop and replay it a couple of more times until the theme stuck in my head.

The surprises continue with the ambient “Before disaster”. I am discovering a varied score and a versatile composer who plays of very different emotion throughout this score. There’s much more depth in “Skin trade” then I first imagined. The music jumps from atmospheric to electronic and back to depressing and there is no time to get tired or frustrated with it. Not surprisingly, considering my usual affections, I highlight everything but the action parts not because they are not good but because I feel more connected to the other moments. I prefer to listen to “Theme for Min” a few more times than to “The harbor”.

I count “Skin trade” as one of the nicer surprises I’ve had lately. This score could have easily been your generic electronic action composition and I’m sure it would have served the movie well. Instead the composer poured his heart and soul in this honest and complex composition which covers a great range of emotions and sensations. I really liked this score and I will return to it in the future. You have exciting action moments, reflective ambient parts and haunting moments. Plus, there is that theme which I am still humming as the score end so “Skin trade” wins on all counts.

Cue rating: 87 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 15 / 37

Album excellence: 40%

Highlights:

Girls In A Cage

Nick’s Revenge

Before Disaster

She’s Alive

Theme For Min

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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