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Soundtrack review: The Vatican Tapes (Joseph Bishara – 2015)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The Vatican Tapes (Joseph Bishara – 2015)


Normally being in a room surrounded by people and in broad daylight would have meant I was safe enough. But I am hesitant in putting both headphones on my ears. Maybe just leave one free? Maybe tell the ones around me to pay attention? I can’t trust Joseph Bishara, not after what happened during “Insidious: Chapter 3”. I didn’t even have time to recover from that scary experience and here I am again, willingly entering a world where the key worlds are good, evil, demonic and exorcism. This is the trade of a great horror composer: he makes me scared before I even listen to the first note. Am I ready for “The Vatican tapes”?

“Unconscious possession” is the right term for what happens to me when I listen to his music. This guy is brilliant because he tortures strings and piano keys in unimaginable ways and they still adore him and perform everything he wants without it sounding forced. I don’t even know what scares me more: the really terrifying moments or the few quieter ones when I know that something really frightening will wait just around the corners. The strings morph into various sounds, from bells to creaking doors and altered reality. There are things creeping, crawling, gnawing at me and there are all sorts of musical jaws big and small coming after me.

“Drowning innocents” is almost unbearable. It’s not loud but it just chokes me with its thick and sharp sound. I can almost hear the cries of those innocents and yes they are made from strings. Joseph Bishara manages to make the string section sound like people wailing and screaming, like chains being dragged across a cold wet stone floor. He must be a wizard. I just love to hear a composer experiment like this and come up with interesting musical ideas you don’t hear all the time. I am curious how “”Hall follower” came together. I would have loved to have been present for that. I get this sensation a lot during “The Vatican tapes”.

This score makes me feel uncomfortable and on the edge. I am always alert when I hear the music, I look over my shoulder and I get the feeling of things crawling on my skin and getting in while other things are just brushing against me. Once again Joseph Bishara knows what a horror score should be about and checks all the points. There’s thick suspense, there are surprises (none of them nice, of course) and a the end you will feel happy to have escaped alive. Horror fans will adore this one.


Cue rating: 87 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 18 / 44

Album excellence: 41%


Unconscious Possession

Drowning Innocents

Bulb Blinded

Hall Follower

Possessed Above


Basement Tapes

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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