Soundtrack review: Rings (Matthew Margeson – 2017)
Rings is a 2017 American supernatural psychological horror film directed by F. Javier Gutiérrez, written by David Loucka, Jacob Aaron Estes, and Akiva Goldsman, and starring Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Vincent D’Onofrio, Aimee Teegarden and Bonnie Morgan. It is the third feature-length film in the American Ring franchise, following The Ring (2002) and The Ring Two (2005). The story is well known by now: A young woman finds herself on the receiving end of a terrifying curse that threatens to take her life in seven days. The first two movies were scores by Hans Zimmer while for this one Matthew Margeson took over.
Naturally the first cue is “First you watch it then you die”, in case anyone forgot the plot of the movie. This opening piece is not at all scary but the dissonant piano works for me and it’s menacing enough to make for a satisfactory beginning. The atmospheric horror takes over in “Gabriel watches” as the music is minimal, just the echo of a piano, and the uncomfortable static sound that almost sounds like insects crawling on the wall takes care of the rest.
It’s very rare that a horror score doesn’t have at least one emotional and warm theme and “Rings” is no exception: we get “Julia” which is a beautiful piano driven piece that just warms my heart. It continues into “The sevens” and these two cues will end up as my favourite part of the score. I know it’s a horror composition and I was supposed to praise it for those elements but for me this small emotional section worked the best.
Back to the meat of the score, Matthew Margeson chose to play on tension more than anything: palpable, slow burning tension that doesn’t work very well outside the context of the film. I enjoy the reflective piano sections that are melodic and that tell me something. “Hold explains” and “Burke” are such cues that break the tension. Sometimes it feels as if the composer was unsure of the direction he should take his music in and settled for the middle ground. Still any score that includes a cue like “Girl with the violin” which is a small story in itself is a score that’s worth listening to. This cue feels like a snow globe where a girl playing the violin is trapped eternally. The echo of the frantic violin returns in “Flash flood” and is, alongside the warm “Julie” theme, the echo that this score will leave inside me.
“Rings” is the kind of composition that works best in the context of the movie, tightly clinging to the story. Something is lacking in the standalone listen but I did find a few moments I can remember including the final cue “Rebirth” that I wish had come earlier.
Cue rating: 79 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 9 / 56
Album excellence: 16%
Girl with the violin