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Soundtrack review: The Bye Bye man (The Newton Brothers – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The Bye Bye man (The Newton Brothers – 2017)

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“The Bye Bye Man” is a 2017 American supernatural horror film directed by Stacy Title and written by Jonathan Penner, based on the chapter “The Bridge to Body Island” in Robert Damon Schneck’s book The President’s Vampire. When three college students move into an old house off campus, they unwittingly unleash a supernatural entity known as The Bye Bye Man, who comes to prey upon them once they discover his name. The friends must try to save each other, all the while keeping The Bye Bye Man’s existence a secret to save others from the same deadly fate. The music was written by The Newton Brothers.

Now a movie like this begs for a straight up horror score, no doubt about it. The opening gives me hope as a creepy constant whirring sound makes an impression before a gothic piano motif seals the deal. Imagine my surprise when the score continues beautiful with two dreamy ambient cues that are right up my alley. “Elliot and Sasha” keeps the beauty going and I forget all about my horror wishes because I am enjoying the ambient music. The composers create an alluring atmosphere with the synths and the piano, an atmosphere that holds and that keeps me hooked even if I know something bad is about to happen. I really was not expecting to get so much ambient goodness from this album. Every now and then this atmosphere that plays like a dense back fog is interrupted with some abrupt scary motifs that work very well in this context; the end of “Seance” made me physically pull my had back as I thought something was going to jump at me from my computer.

The horror moments are as sneaky as a mist and also played with the synths. The Newton Brothers went for the quiet scares instead of the loud ones, they went for a constantly frightening atmosphere rather than sudden loud movements. I love this because the way the did it with the synths and electronic sounds makes it sound like in 80s horror score and my nostalgia bone is really tickled. Even if I am listening to this score in broad daylight i feel uncomfortable and worried and this is the sign for me that a horror score works and does what it should: scare me. The atmosphere actually sometimes reminds me of the “Saw” movies.

I’ll go out and say it: I loved “The bye bye man” not because it was effectively scary but because of the ambient synth sound, because of that unmistakable and addictive mood. It had that 80s dark synth sound which is my favourite and every time I find a nugget from it I am happy. “The bye bye man” had plenty and adding to that the scary cues when the composers cleverly make that same mood even darker and more menacing I get a very satisfying score. I am sure that in the context of the movie it fits even better. The Newton Brothers wrote a textural score that worked very well also as a standalone listen.

Cue rating: 89 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 34 / 70

Album excellence: 49%

Highlights:
Don’t Think It Don’t Say It
Mr. Daisy’s House
In the Basement
Snowfall
Elliot & Sasha
Seance
The Gloomsinger
I Heard It
Noise in the Basement
The Library
He’s Coming for Me
The Day My Life Went Turn, Turn, Turn
Car Crash
Loved Ones
The Bye Bye Man
I’m Not Going to Let You Catch It
I Can Save You

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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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