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Soundtrack review: The hallow (James Gosling – 2016)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The hallow (James Gosling – 2016)


“The Hallow” (originally titled The Woods) is a 2015 horror film directed by Corin Hardy, written by Hardy and Felipe Marino. A family who moved into a remote mill house in Ireland finds themselves in a fight for survival with demonic creatures living in the woods when they ignore the warnings of locals. The Hallow is set in the misty woods of Ireland, a spooky and incredibly effective setting that’s a character in its own right. James Gosling wrote the score and before hearing it I keep my fingers crossed for Celtic influences in the music.

Or slightly gothic, gothic is fine as well because an opening like “The hallow” slowly dims the light outside and blurs whatever I see. A mist slowly takes over everything around me and I get the strange feeling of having been in this place for a long time already. The score doesn’t waste any time in introducing the scenery of the story and I feel as if I entered a museum where they have a perfect replica of that world, that’s how sudden the switch was from the real world to “The hallow”.

The sound of this world is dark and muffled. The music, be it quiet or loud, slithers in a swamp that’s familiar to it but not to me as a listener. The composer does a very good job of giving me chills and making me worry. There’s something that attracts me to this score every step of the way. Maybe it’s the mystery in the sound, maybe it’s the atmospheric quality of the music, even if the atmosphere is not a welcoming one.

Indeed the music of “The hallow” is all about the atmosphere. As the score progresses I imagine it would work very well for a horror exploration video game. The soundscape is thick and solid and builds walls around me. The music never makes me think of people and feelings, always about the surrounding elements. It’s a strange sensation and the score works. It makes me feel alone and hunted and yet addicted to what I’m hearing.

James Gosling chose a path and didn’t stray from it. This score fits every mental imagery I might have had about the misty and spooky woods of Ireland. I felt physical chills when listening to it and a weight on my shoulders. If you want to hear a quiet yet overwhelming horror score just dive into this one. “The hallow” is dark and brilliant and I don’t need to see the movie to feel the anguish and danger.

Cue rating: 90 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 23 / 57

Album excellence: 41%


The Hallow

Cora’s Story

Fleeing Creatures

Attack And Escape

Agony And Collapse

Barricading The House

The Snatch



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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