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Soundtrack review: Get out (Michael Abels – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Get out (Michael Abels – 2017)


“Get Out” is a 2017 American horror film written, co-produced and directed by Jordan Peele, in his directorial debut. Chris and his girlfriend Rose go upstate to visit her parent’s for the weekend. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behaviour as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined. The music was written by Michael Abels. I heard a lot about this movie but I haven’t gotten around to seeing it yet.

First thing I notice is that the score is very fragmented: 43 cues for 60 minutes but for a jumpy horror score this could work. The African American element is very important in the movie and the composer incorporates Swahili vocals right from the opening titles. The voices sound good, like chants, and set a mysterious mood for the album. We also get the love theme for the two characters right from the start and there’s nothing scary about a beautiful and mesmerising cello cue that makes sure I care for these two before the trouble starts. The composer doesn’t jump right into the horror as he eases us listeners in by building some tension and mystery first when we are presented with the setting of the movie, the house. There are quite a few melodic cues in the first part of the score and I like them but they are way to short, sometimes under a minute, so I can’t quite catch the tail of any of them. I also like the use of the voices.

The first horror moment is “Water’s run” which again is only 16 seconds long and I imagine even his real run lasted longer; it sounds scary but unfinished. The scares are delayed till about the second half of the score but I am enjoying the suspense. Sometimes it feel as if it was an Agatha Christie mystery when I hear a cue like “Andre reveal” with the trombone and the flute. This theme recurs a few more times. It’s all very nice but as the score progresses I keep waiting for the horror music to start. The composer does bring ethnic African American instruments like the percussion in “Get out” which make for an interesting listen.

Waiting for something to happen fully describes my experience of listening to “Get out”; whether it be for the scary moments to start or, when they do come, for them to be more than anticipatory. There are scares but the cues are short and sometimes it feels like the composer could have pushed the envelope more and given them more time to develop and, well, scare. There are a lot of cues that play the “suspense before something frightening happens” without showing us the actual even. I would describe “Get even” as a dense suspenseful score, but not a truly scary one.

I imagine that in the context of the movie the score is more rewarding as the images complete it the right way. The music is textural and it needs something to cover. I will for sure come back on it after I see the film.

Cue rating: 84 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 22 / 60

Album excellence: 36%

Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga (Main Title)
The House
Ice Tea
Get Out
The Sunken Place
Mental Prep
Surgery Prep
Jeremy Attacks
Georgina Hit
Rose Returns
Situation Handled
End Titles (Montage)

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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