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Soundtrack review: 47 meters down (Tomandandy – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: 47 meters down (Tomandandy – 2017)

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“47 Meters Down” is a 2017 British survival horror film directed by Johannes Roberts, written by Roberts and Ernest Riera, and starring Claire Holt and Mandy Moore. Two sisters are exploring the deep blue sea until something goes wrong. As they submerge 47m they encounter a creature that only wants flesh and blood. As they fight their way back to the top, they shortly run out of oxygen. With only an hour left they’re not only racing against time they are racing against life and death. The score was written by Tomandnady.

A story and a setting like this leave little room for interpretation from the composer, if he wants his score to succeed in the context of the movie; it’s an underwater survival horror and the underwater element makes it even more restrictive and claustrophobic. My expectations from this score are quite clear and I am enjoying the watery ambient of “Blue” which marks the carefree beginning of the story when there’s just the beauty of the underwater experience. It’s the only such moment from the score as the composers set out to make the musical experience almost as uncomfortable as the ones the characters have.

They don’t succeed in this all the times though as some cues are too blank and I can’t make much of them; they do create an atmosphere but sometimes I feel as if I am somewhere on the surface of the sea hearing muffled sounds and trying to make out what happens below instead of being there in the middle of the action, scared, fighting for my life. The music is way to quiet sometimes and just hums without doing more. Cues like “Try up” or “Pole” aren’t much more than background sounds.

I am a big fan of ambient music but I am often having a hard time connecting with this score. I wanted to be frightened by the music or to feel it choking me with discomfort but that is rarely the case. There’s too much underwater and too little of the humans and sharks in this score. I understand what Tomandandy tried to do here and it is the kind of composition that works much better in context than standalone. I do find moments I like “Alone together” is the kind of cue that’s right up my alley because it adds emotion to the usual humming. I am enjoying the tension in “Try up again” and “Up stuck” since the music makes me feel like I am experiencing the terror.

As a standalone listen “47 meters down” was a bit too uneven for me; the composers created an atmospheric sound for their story that needs the images and the characters to work better. Afterall this was the purpose of their score. Without the movie I connected the easiest to the more melodic ambient pieces, the ones that didn’t sit quietly in the background, pieces like “Going up” and to the more aggressive industrial action moments like “Ranch dressing” and “Subway”.

Cue rating: 74 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 10 / 63

Album excellence: 16%

Highlights:
Blue
Alone Together
Alive
Ascent

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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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