Film scores

Soundtrack review: The forest (Bear McCreary – 2016)

“The Forest” is a 2016 American supernatural horror film directed by Jason Zada and written by Ben Ketai, Nick Antosca, and Sarah Cornwell. The film stars Natalie Dormer and Taylor Kinney. A young woman searches for her twin sister in a Japanese forest only to find herself surrounded by paranormal forces. The movie has a gorgeous poster / cover and usually Japanese influenced horror flicks are quite scary. This one is based in Japanese mythology as well and it takes place in a famous folklore forest. Bear McCreary wrote the score and of course this is one of the most exciting composers to listen to. Bear studied Japanese folk songs to better get a feel of the story and incorporated some of them in this score.

For there’s something extremely creepy about children’s choirs in the background. I know they should feel angelic and heavenly but not the way they are used here. I admit: nothing is more effective for me in a horror score than children’s voices chanting in the background. Add to that the violent strings of the main title and you get a very scary cue.

Once I get past that a different kind of music welcomes me in the 8 minute long “Journey to Aokigahara”. I get immersed in the web of melodic sounds woven by a few crafty string sections and I feel the excitement of a journey I take alone as I drift away from civilization. The music is so gentle that I don’t even notice how it slowly encompasses me and makes the space around me feel more and more confined. The mental imagery of a forest is easily created with this wonderful piece; I feel the forest grow thicker around me and the small and well placed inserts of Japanese instruments work wonders. This is the kind of cue that justifies its length and builds a bridge towards the rest of the score. The choirs add to the sound of fantasy and I have my first favorite cue of 2016.

“The forest” doesn’t scare me out of my seat. This score is smarter than that; it welcomes me with deceivingly beautiful melodies and it gets me addicted to the sound. I know something lurks there but I don’t care, I can’t stay away. How did Bear McCreary manage to contain the music so well? How did he manage to keep it so quiet and yet so deep and meaningful? His music is rarely this beautiful and melodic because Bear is a musical beast who likes to experiment and get loud and improvise. Here though he just stripped the music to its bear soul and wrote an atmospheric score to last for ages. This is simply beautiful film music; I have no other words for it. You will recognize him though in the end cue “Theme from “The forest”” where he places his unmistakable rock stamp.

“The forest” is a perfect example of why Bear McCreary is one of the best composers around. He is a musical chameleon who takes the shape of the story he writes for. His music becomes that story and that’s why it’s so easy to believe and embrace. Do not miss this score. I am curious how it will affect all of you. Even with the frightful inserts it still made me dream more than anything else.

Cue rating: 96 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 33 / 42

Album excellence: 78%

Highlights:

The Forest Main Title

Journey To Aokigahara

Into The Forest

The Tent

Follow The Rope

The Reversing River

Curse Of The Yurei

Theme From The Forest

 

 

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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