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Soundtrack review: The mist (Giona Ostinelli – 2017)

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Soundtrack review: The mist (Giona Ostinelli – 2017)

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The Mist is an American science fiction-horror thriller television series developed by Christian Torpe for Spike. It is based on the horror novella of the same name by author Stephen King. An unexplained mist slowly envelops the town of Bridgeville, Maine, creating an almost impenetrable barrier to visibility. The residents of the town soon learn the situation is even more precarious as hidden within the mist are numerous monsters of various sizes that attack and kill anything that moves. The story is deeper but this works as a tagline. Think the smoke monster from lost if it was grey / white and covered and entire city. I remember the Frank Darabont movie from 10 years ago and how chilling it was so I was familiar with the story even before watching the show. I was also familiar with composer Giona Ostinelli who captured my attention with 2016’s “Darling”.

As I watched the show I was surprised by how much the music stood out not only when it was time to be frightened but also in the emotional moments; I fully expected a horror TV show score to spend its time scaring me and blending with the sound effects but the music here stubbornly kept taking my hand and making me notice its beautiful reflective and ambient sound no matter how immersed I was in what was happening on screen. If more often than not a score makes me get excited about a movie or TV show this time watching “The mist” made me anticipate even more listening to Giona Ostinelli’s composition out of context.

The score wastes no time in starting with the frantic theme “Goodbye Bryan Hunt”, a heart racing minute to get the blood pumping. Giona’s craft truly kicks in in “Nature can be so cruel”, a show stopping blend of emotional depth brought on by the cello and horror suspense (“Saw” style with that dulcimer sound). This cue is a fully fledged musical feast that builds the soundscape of “The mist” on its own; I can feel both the evil mist and the humans in this piece, the humans as they were in the beginning of the crisis before they inevitably turned into monsters themselves.

In a period when horror movies and flourishing and there’s an abundance of scores, some good, some great and some generic, “The mist” goes right up there with the best Bishara or Wallfisch compositions when it wants to be scary; for my the etalon is simple: if a score manages to scare me no matter when or where I listen to it, even if its in a crowded room in broad daylight then it’s a winner. “The mist” achieves this from the first couple of terrifying cues “Where did you go” and “To the hospital”; whenever the composer goes into that mode the music is worthy of a Stephen King story. I can feel something impalpable and invisible crawling on my skin in “Frogs” or “Kevin sees the flashing light”.

In the show the moments when characters moved from place to place were frantic and consisted of non stop running so the mist wouldn’t catch them and this is captured superbly in every relentlessly paced cue from the album. I can actually hear insanity in a piece like “Follow me” and I can’t look away, I want to turn up the volume and explore the cue and let it take me over.

In between the scary and the emotional parts are the suspenseful experimental cues where Giona Ostinelli mixes traditional instruments with more unconventional tools like tibetan bowls, wood benches, breaths or screams. This makes the score a complete and effective emotional experience that touches the entire range of feelings somebody might be going through in a situation like that. I can’t help but feel a tingle of excitement and fear in the same time when I listen to “Vic and Ted set a trap” as the experimental sounds of the cue make the tension real.

Still nothing gets to me as much as the quietly melodic cues. There’s a warmth I can physically feel in the deep and quiet moments when that cello seems to be playing an eternal requiem for the world we knew. The feeling gets even more poignant with cues like “Lacrimosa” where the organ appears. If you’ve been reading my reviews you know that my favourite genre is ambient music and there are moments during “The mist” where I am hypnotised and I feel like the that old lady that worshiped the mist and what it brought, except that I worship this music. “The mist” is haunting at its very core and there’s a permanent duality present, whether between loud scary cues and quiet emotional ones or inside the cues themselves when the solo string dialogues with the dulcimer or piano.

“The mist” is a fascinating and addictive composition, a superb score on its own and one of the most affecting parts of the show in context. Once again Giona Ostinelli delivers an exceptional composition; he knows when to sprinkle and when to flood, he knows when to hit and when to caress, he knows when to express insanity and when to express hope. “The mist” is a complex and complete score that you shouldn’t miss under any circumstances.

Cue rating: 94 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 48 / 67

Album excellence: 72%

Highlights:
The Mist
Goodbye Bryan Hunt
Nature Can Be So Cruel
Where Did You Go
Mom Had A Panic Attack
To The Hospital
Not If I Look Closely
Frogs
Kevin Sees The Flashing Light
Follow Me
Shelley And The Candles
We Can’t Carry Him
Vic And Ted Set Up A Trap
Lacrimosa
Fire
Jay Wants to Talk
I Didn’t See What Was Inside of Him
Mia Runs Away
Play a Game With Me
The Evil Was Inside of Her
Jay’s Hope
It Will Be Gone Soon
Staying Behind
A Toast For My Husband
Let’s Do This
Fear Human Nature… And The Train

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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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