Film scores

Soundtrack review: The boy (Bear McCreary – 2016)

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“The Boy” (previously known as The Inhabitant) is a 2016 American horror film directed by William Brent Bell and written by Stacey Menear. The film stars Lauren Cohan and Rupert Evans. An American nanny is shocked that her new English family’s boy is actually a life-sized doll (named Brahms). After violating a list of strict rules, disturbing events make her believe that the doll is really alive. 2016 is not even a month old and Bear McCreary is already releasing his second horror score. I enjoyed “The forest” immensely and I have high hopes for this one as well.

I love it that just as “The forest” Bear goes dark melodic for this one. The main titles are suspenseful and make me think of ripples of water playing tricks on my eyes in the night. The melody keeps rolling and rolling. It’s nothing new but it’s a sound I hold very dear. The sound bleeds into the second cue as well and gets even quieter with the romantic piano theme of “The crying doll”. I have to readjust my expectations and frame of mind about this score as the music goes on.

The score finally shows its teeth when “The attic” starts. There’s no more sweetness; this is how going into a scary attic sounds like in my mind. The atmosphere of “The boy” is starting to change as if the surface of the smooth skin I felt during the first couple of cues was being slowly pierced by blades, revealing what lied beneath. There’s something in the music that’s keeping me at a distance though. The horror parts feel cold to me as if I am watching the story instead of being part of it. I enjoy the melodic moments more because I am familiar with that sound and it’s pleasing to the ears.

Pleasing to the ears is the equivalent of “nice” and this is how I would describe this score. I’m not sure it’s the right attribute for a horror or suspense score. “The boy” rarely got scary; I looked for those moments and appreciated them when they came. The music stayed there at the door not daring to come in. The music lacked something for me, it settled too much into a comfort zone. I am curious about how it sounds in the context of the movie though. Maybe what lacked were the images and maybe it would make more sense in that complete form.

I will listen to “The boy” again after some time has passed to see if I discover more than lovely piano variations.

Cue rating: 87 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 15 / 46

Album excellence: 33%

Highlights:

The Boy Main Title

Family Photos

The Phone Call And The Letter

Goodnight Brahms

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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