Film scores

Soundtrack review: 10 Cloverfield Lane (Bear McCreary – 2016)

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Film music rarely gets any better than this. “10 Cloverfield Lane” is gripping and melodic, emotional and scary and I can’t ask for more from a score.

“10 Cloverfield Lane” is an upcoming 2016 American science fiction thriller film and the directorial debut of Dan Trachtenberg. The film was written by Josh Campbell, Matthew Stucken, and Damien Chazelle and stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and John Gallagher, Jr. It’s become a spiritual successor of the 2008 film Cloverfield. After surviving a car accident, a woman, Michelle, wakes up in an underground cellar, where most of the film takes place. She fears she has been abducted by survivalist Howard Stambler, who tells her he saved her life, and that a worldwide chemical attack has left Earth’s surface uninhabitable. Uncertain what to believe, she decides to escape, no matter what dangers she may face outside. Bear McCreary wrote the score and he’s been having a terrific 2016 so far and it’s only March.

The opening theme “Michelle” slithers wonderfully around me and I let it do that without struggling to escape. This melodic paste just fills the room and changes the mood around me completely. I feel as if it suddenly got dark and chili and instead of being scared I am excited for the adventure that follows. Oh wait, this wasn’t the real darkness. “The concrete cell” follows and it goes even deeper. The score is already developing into an experience as rich and rewarding as watching the movie itself. This isn’t just background music or something to accompany the images; the music has a life of its own, it’s complex and entertaining and I am listening to it on the edge of my seat curious about what happens next.

Bear McCreary wrote a fascinating musical labyrinth for “10 Cloverfield lane”. The claustrophobic and paranoid essence of the story transpires in the music. How beautiful and exciting it is to hear a full blown orchestral score that goes from horror to melodic to industrial in the blink of an eye and comes at me with emotions and thrills and strings and a brass section that makes me think of the action moments from Star Wars. Bear didn’t hold anything back for this one and wrote one of the more complex quiet scores of his career. The atmosphere reminds me sometimes of James Newton Howard’s “Signs” but if that score was a simple composition based on only three notes bear uses the opposite approach to create his musical tapestry.

A cue like “Hazmat suit” stands out for me because the tension gets almost unbearable and I feel as if something is chasing me through a tunnel. It moves at a relentless pace and at one point I can’t tell what’s louder, that noise or the hectic beating of my heart. It’s one of the few bursts of energy from a score that stays at a very intimate and personal level. I feel the music speaks from the character’s point of view rather than focus very much on the outside world.

Film music rarely gets any better than this. “10 Cloverfield Lane” is gripping and melodic, emotional and scary and I can’t ask for more from a score. Once again Bear McCreary makes this film music fan happy and grateful. He is one of the best composers around and so far, 2016 is the year of the Bear.

Cue rating: 94 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 44 / 64

Album excellence: 69%

Highlights:

Michelle

A Bright Red Flash

At The Door

Two Stories

Hazmat Suit

A Happy Family

The Burn

Valencia

The New Michelle

10 Cloverfield Lane

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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