Film scores

Soundtrack review: Condemned (Daniel Davies and Sebastian Robertson – 2015)

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“Condemned” is the story of a rich girl from the suburbs who runs away from her abusive home to go live with her boyfriend in NYC, only to discover that he lives with his friends inside a creepy abandoned building. Deciding to give it a try, the rich girl slowly discovers the crazy mix of characters living in the building with her. But when a toxic gas is released from all the waste and filth that has accumulated in the basement, everyone in the building falls victim to the maddening effects of the gas. The score was written by two new names for me, Daniel Davies and Sebastian Robertson.

See, this is what means for the composers to mirror the on screen images in their music. The scenery is clear from the beginning and it never changes: it’s a creepy abandoned building and the opening cue “Shynola’s rumble” builds its replica in the musical medium. Once we are inside we can start meeting characters through their themes. Cookie is the first one and her theme is techno and industrial. It’s one of the livelier cues from “Condemned”.

I like “Maya’s hope”. I like the title, I find it so appropriate for an ambient cue… I don’t need more. It’s as if this cue was a tiny insight into someone’s mind, a musical representation of something intimate and precious to that person. It doesn’t have anything to do with the movie or the story; it’s just a moment that’s out of time. It is also one of the very few tender and warm moments from this stone cold score.

The composers used the electronic and experimental sound to make us feel the atmosphere of the movie. Nothing is properly finished or polished, there’s no warmth and nothing welcomes you to stay. The rhythm in a cue like “Locked in” makes me feel alert and looking over my shoulder and this is exactly how I would feel in a situation like the one described in the movie.

There were times when “Condemned” reminded me of the time I had an MRI with its constant, almost insanely relentless pulse. Eventually it builds up into a coherent melody. At times the score can get even dreamy. There’s a lot to discover in what Daniel Davies and Sebastian Robertson have created and I enjoyed listening to this composition and searching its hidden corners. I can even say I will return to this score when the mood asks for it. if I need to be laser focused and into an almost mechanic task I might have this in my ears. Add to this some moments when my nostalgic bone was tickled by the sound of the synth and we’ve got a winner.

Cue rating: 84 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 10 / 28

Album excellence: 37%

Highlights:

Cookie’s Theme

Maya’s Hope

Broken Phone

Room To Roof

Condemned Theme

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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