Film scores

Soundtrack review: Darling (Giona Ostinelli – 2016)

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“Darling” is one of the most interesting and innovative soundscapes I’ve heard this year.

“Darling” is a 2016 movie directed by Mickey Keating that  begins as a lonely girl (Lauren Ashley Carter) moves into a mysterious Manhattan mansion. Hired as a caretaker, it’s not long before she discovers the estate’s haunted reputation. These stories slowly transform into a backdrop for her twisted and violent descent into madness. The score was written by Giona Ostinelli.

You know those scenes in movies where everything is quiet and apparently normal and all of a sudden something comes from around a corner or beats on the window and startles both characters and viewers? That’s how this score starts. It’s a horror score so yeah, that’s how it’s supposed to start. The composer just goes all scary experimental from the first cue and I needed to turn on the lights for this one. And that was just the first couple of cues. That was before “Why did you come here tonight” which choked me with a thousand tortured strings. I had the feeling that a swarm of angry bees was moving as one being coming closer and closer until it swallowed me whole. Hands down one of the most affecting and uncomfortable cues I’ve heard this year. A cue like this makes the whole score feel alive and I was looking around to make sure the walls of my house weren’t actually alive themselves and made of a thousand insects.

Once that is done I can hear my heart beating in my ears. No, wait, it’s another brilliant cue, electronic and melodic, a constant pulse which turns into an electrically wired church bell. What, the composer can experiment will al sort of weird sounds and instruments and even use the sound of water dripping in a cauldron and I can’t make strange analogies? Seems only fair. “Dragging the body” is a example of a musical house of horrors that’s both scary and entertaining.

The mental torture that Giona Ostinelli subjects me to comes in many shapes and forms. It can be MRI level uncomfortable, it can be noisy or it can be abrupt. He has a lot of weapons at his disposal and he’s using all of them. I am caught in a musical labyrinth  \where everything is out to get me. I am getting scratched, burned; I get wires connected to my head and I know I’m going to have a hard time escaping from here.

“Darling” is one of the most interesting and innovative soundscapes I’ve heard this year. The atmosphere that Giona Ostinelli creates is unique and extremely effective. I was curious, I was scared, I had fun and I was very entertained. Be careful though, this score is not for everyone. If you don’t usually like experimental compositions you might not get a lot out of this one. For me it was fascinating.

Cue rating: 90 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 31 / 61

Album excellence: 51%

Highlights:

  1. NYC Pt. 1
  2. Darling
  3. The City
  4. Why Did You Come Here Tonight
  5. Abyssus
  6. James Abbott
  7. Falling
  8. Invocation
  9. The Door
  10. The House
  11. Following Him
  12. Inferno
  13. Exploring The House
  14. Scriabin Preludes op. 11
  15. NYC Pt. 3
  16. Darling Reprise

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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