Soundtrack review – Unnatural (Edwin Wendler – 2015)
“Unnatural” tells the story of a photographer and his friends who set out in the dead of winter for the Alaskan wilderness to take advantage of the limited, but beautiful daylight. They are met by an experienced hunter and local lodge owner who instills fear within the group by telling them the legend of Maneater, a bear that has fangs and claws sharper than man-made metal. This epic tall tale quickly becomes our group’s real, living nightmare. I love disaster and monster movies so I will definitely watch this one. This is my first contact with Edwin Wendler as a composer.
The main title is cold and screechy. The sound is also metallic and feels like a shovel repeatedly hitting the snow. The music tiptoes and I get an ominous feeling from this opening. The composer doesn’t impose something heavy on us; instead he prefers to create a misty atmosphere that says “beware”. There’s a sprout of a piano theme in there and its echoes come back in “Mementos”. I can’t help but associate the story with the music though and I am looking for something heavier. The villain in this movie is a genetically altered polar bear and so far the musical threat seems less corporeal than that.
It’s clear to me that Edwin Wendler chooses to focus on the threat more than the actual action and drama. The music is suspenseful and thin and sounds very much like the base layer of a horror score. The problem with this kind of music is that it needs my full attention and an high volume. This is the kind of sound that works much better in context with the support of the images, or rather to support the on screen images. It doesn’t have that something to grab me and make me feel threatened and excited in the same time.
The music gets livelier when the attacks start but I was still expecting something a little darker. There are echoes, yes, and they are intriguing but they very often stop at that. The noise that’s causing the echo stays far away. What “Unnatural” does get right is the cold and unforgiving atmosphere of the Alaskan wilderness. The music makes me feel frozen, alone, almost hopeless. I am missing the beauty of the scenery from this equation. This well established scenery though needs characters and more emotions to make for a compelling score. I couldn’t connect with this one very well… I will be left with the chill and with interesting cues like “Martin’s expedition”.
Cue rating: 76 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 10 / 70
Album excellence: 14%
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