Film scores

Soundtrack review: The boy (Hauschka – 2015)

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“The Boy” is a 2015 American horror film directed by Craig Macneill, written by Macneill and Clay McLeod Chapman, and starring David Morse, Rainn Wilson, and Jared Breeze. Ted Henley and his father operate a floundering family business. It’s just the two of them since Ted’s mother ran off with a guest years earlier, stealing the motel’s soul and one of its last regular patrons. Since then, Ted’s father has drifted into despondency—becoming a living ghost, haunting his own motel and leaving Ted to fend for himself. In his isolation, unchecked by the bounds of parenting, friendship, or affection, Ted’s fascination with death awakens. Sounds like a Stephen King worthy plot. The score was written by Hauschka, a German piano composer.

This is a horror score so it’s very mood and context dependent. Right now as I am listening to it the room is very bright, the sun is shining and I am not alone in the room, which makes the talk of scaring me all the more difficult. I need to get in the horror mood, to pay attention, to get immersed in what is going on. Horror scores are tough to write and they are among the ones who are most connected to the movie they were written for.

Still Hauschka chose to write my kind of horror score. I find myself more drawn to the horror scores which mix music with sounds from the movie. The use of sounds made by various objects, of creaking or clawing sounds, of beating against walls, of screeching only adds to the uncomfortable effect of the score. There’s little to none melody, just noise and sounds meant to bring chill to our bones. When the instruments appear they are deliciously gripping abused strings which go at an insane pace.

These are just moments that get to me. A melodic explosion like “William crying” or those strings. I have a hard time connecting with the rest of the score. Like I said, could be the mood, could be the light, could be the coldness of the composition but outside the context of the movie this doesn’t work very well for me. “The boy” is an interesting experimental score but the experiment gets a little further than I can go. I am opened to weird music but I couldn’t really understand this one.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this to horror fans but to people who are very into experimental sounds.

Cue rating: 68 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 3 / 47

Album excellence: 6%

Highlights:

William crying

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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