Film scores

Soundtrack review: Poker night (Scott Glasgow – 2015)

pokernight

“Poker Night” is a 2014 crime thriller film that was written and directed by Greg Francis. The film was released to video on demand on 5 December 2014 and had a limited theatrical release on 20 December. Stan Jeter (Beau Mirchoff) is a new detective that gets invited to play a game of poker with several veteran police officers and detectives. Each one tells Stan about various insights they gained from different murder cases they investigated, which turns out to be invaluable when Stan is captured and imprisoned by a vicious, anonymous assailant (Michael Eklund). He finds that he has been imprisoned with Amy (Halston Sage), the daughter of a police officer, and that he must use the stories of his fellow poker players to find a way for both himself and Amy to escape. The score was written by Scott Glasgow whose last release, “Confessions of a psychopath” made a big impression on me.

The first thing I notice about this score is the alert movement of the darkness. Instead of being heavy and uncomfortable the mood of the score fills the room like a black smoke that you only notice when it has started to build up on the walls. The clouds of smoke and a constant ticking in the background keep me alert and on my toes. The music does a great job in instantly getting me interested in the story in tells. That constant ticking follows the music as it goes from cue to cue and every now and then explodes in an industrial frenzy that makes me turn the volume up in “Davis”. This neurotic theme gets under my skin with its pulses and beats and becomes very addictive. This one is definitely going on my speed run playlist. More of this please!

This one is just the first of the four character dedicated themes which mirror the differences between their personalities. “Maxwell” is more reflective and cerebral; “Cunningham” is darker and quieter but definitely hides something while “Jeter” is the most layered and shows a more complex character. I love the string motif close to the end and how it morphs into an electronic pounding.

I love how this score is constructed. The more I listen to it the further I go down this musical rabbit hole and I am both worried and excited to see what I will find there. I like how “Burial warning” changes the industrial mood of the score and brings emotion to the mix. It was only a break because the insane percussion comes back and there are times when I feel as excited as I was when I heard “Mad Max: Fury road”. And as a Nine Inch Nails fan I just embrace a piece like “The wall / Sheeple” because it reminds me of their most distorted pieces.

“Poker night” is not a place I’d want to find myself in very soon. This speaks of how good Scott Glasgow’s composition is and how effectively he created the musical landscape needed to sustain the movie and transmit even to the listener of the score the uncomfortably sticky and dense atmosphere. For me this is industrial music at its best.

Cue rating: 86 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 26 / 77

Album excellence: 33%

Highlights:

Davis

Jeter

Burial Warning

The Wall Sheeple

Ship Yard Discovery

Answers

Lessons

 

 

 

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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