Film scores

Soundtrack review: Hush (The Newton Brothers – 2016)

hush

Hush is a 2016 American psychological horror thriller film directed by Mike Flanagan from a screenplay by Flanagan and Kate Siegel. The film stars John Gallagher Jr., Michael Trucco, Samantha Sloyan and Siegel. A deaf writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears at her window. Now this sounds like a creepy premise, to have to find against such a threat when you are deaf. The film has already gained a lot of praise and I will surely watch it. The Newton brothers wrote the score. A story like this means the composers have nowhere to hide: they need to match the on screen suspense and horror with the music.

I have to wait for that though as we are introduced to the main character “Maddie” in the opening of the score. It’s a mild and harmless theme and not enough to make me care about the character. I am surprised that “A violet death”, the first horror moment of the score, is not louder. I get it though. This story is about a deaf girl and how she perceives what’s happening to her so a quieter score makes sense. The composer uses creepy sound effects every now and then as if there were things crawling in the dark. Still, I don’t know if because of the production or the music itself, I need to turn the volume very high in some moments to make sense of the music.

“Not alone” is the first moment when I connect with the score. I can feel the frights and want to hide. It’s an exception though. I want to feel the thrills and terror in “Intruder” or “Taking off the mask” but it’s just not there for me. The atmosphere is tense and well-constructed but the truly scary moments are rare. “Taking off the mask” has some spikes of sound that do the job but I would have wanted more of those.

“On the outside” is just as silent but this time it gives me what I need from a horror score. This seems to be the point where the music starts to get real. It’s louder, it’s scarier and there are more moments when I feel as if I am the one in danger. The second half of the score is better than the first but still doesn’t count for me as a memorable horror score. I needed more moments like “Counter attack”.  I will watch the movie and maybe it will make more sense in context.

Cue rating: 79 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 6 / 49

Album excellence: 12%

Highlights:

Not alone

On the outside

Counter attack

Alarm

 

 

 

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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