Film scores

Soundtrack review: The other side of the door (Joseph Bishara – 2016)

“The other side of the door” is all about the atmosphere and there aren’t many composers who can create one as masterfully as Joseph Bishara. If you want a smart horror score that will scare the living daylights out of you, you can’t go wrong with him.

“The Other Side of the Door” is a 2016 British-Indian supernatural horror film directed by Johannes Roberts and written by Roberts and Ernest Riera. The film stars Sarah Wayne Callies, Jeremy Sisto, Javier Botet and Sofia Rosinsky. A family lives an idyllic existence abroad until a tragic accident takes the life of their young son. The inconsolable mother learns of an ancient ritual that will bring him back to say a final goodbye. She travels to an ancient temple, where a door serves as a mysterious portal between two worlds. But when she disobeys a sacred warning to never open that door, she upsets the balance between life and death. A story like this with a score by Joseph Bishara means I need to turn on every light in the house and alert my wife.

I am surprise by the melodic and almost romantic start of the score. I guess I shouldn’t be since the beginning of the story is idyllic but knowing this composer I was sure the frights were going to start early. Instead the music just whispers for the first few minutes punctuated by sweet piano strokes that make me feel of ripples disturbing the perfect surface of a lake at night. All’s right in the world again by the end of “Left underwater” when the disturbed strings start to play chaotically.

This isn’t a “jump at your throat” horror score where the thrills and scary sounds wait behind every corner to startle me; Joseph Bishara’s brand of tension from this score is different and smarter. The music stays in the background like a giant snake you feel slithering and hear hissing in the room but you can’t see it. Sure there are some heart jumping moments, few and effective, but the majority of the score is quiet and melodic. There’s surprisingly lot of emotion in “The other side of the door” and it makes the composition all the more rewarding.

Quiet though doesn’t exclude scary. A cue like “Dead forest temple” raised the hairs on the back of my neck. It also provided me comfort with the piano at the end and this duality is what makes the score really work. The music is human and honest and that’s what makes the scary parts feel even more real. The soundscape is wide and builds a web around me that I won’t be able to escape. That’s why when those terror punches do arrive they are all the more efficient because I know I can’t just snap out of this and wake up. If I open my eyes I’ll only find other traps set by the composer.

I don’t think melodic horror is a genre but this score makes me think of it. There are nuggets of love and hope trying to shine through the thick darkness but in the end they are swallowed. “The other side of the door” is all about the atmosphere and there aren’t many composers who can create one as masterfully as Joseph Bishara. If you want a smart horror score that will scare the living daylights out of you, you can’t go wrong with him.

Cue rating: 93 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 24 / 41

Album excellence: 58%

Highlights:

The Other Side

Back Not Lost

Dead Forest Temple

Call Through The Door

Door Opened

Aghori Guardian

Dying All Around

Downed Traveler

Visit During Storm

Diety Invoked

Burned Tethers

Sent Back

At The Door

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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