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Soundtrack review: The monster (Tomandandy – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The monster (Tomandandy – 2017)


“The monster” is a 2016 horror movie. Kathy is the alcoholic and smoking addicted mother of the young, but mature teenager Lizzy. They live together since Kathy’s husband Roy left her, and she neglects her daughter.While driving through a lonely road through the woods, Kathy hits a wolf that breaks her car, leaving them stranded on the empty road. A mother and daughter must confront a terrifying monster when they break down on a deserted road. The score was written by Tomandandy.

I am pleasantly surprised by the opening two cues as they bring me the deep ambient piano mood I always welcome with open arms; the pieces are very minimalistic and the piano bangs like an eternal gong calling someone. Tomandandy had scores before where the mood was a little murky but as “The monster” develops there’s no trace of that as the echoes of the piano slither like a snake brushing against my legs in the dark. In the beginning of the album the composers just paint everything dark and mysterious without adding danger. When the strings join in, cold and sparse, the mood starts to change. I am sure that the piano motif represents the warmth of the main characters while the rest of the soundscape is for the elements outside. I can listen to that poignant piano motif for hours so I am happy that it recurs very often.

The atmosphere the two composers create is a fascinating and quite addictive dark mist that blends ethereal danger with piano emotion. A cue like “Wolf” is worth more than one listen because the way Tomandandy combine the sounds is a lesson in textural writing. This is all “The monster” is, a rich textural tapestry that is realistically mysterious and scary and ambient to the bone. I like it that every emotion is contained and hidden; the darkness is real, the music gives me the impression of something lurking in the shadows, of the need to hide, of a permanent danger. The sparse electronic motifs and occasional scares make for an eternal horror teaser; the score just creates that palpable, sickening, choking tension of waiting and knowing that something terrifying will come and not being able to do anything to stop it. The atmosphere reminds me of the “Alien” scores but with more emotion through the piano. I hear a cue like “Scared” with just one simple piano note, a single key being pressed repeatedly, obsessively with a slight change of pace towards the end and I am jumping out of my seat; Tomandandy manage to scare me with just one finger and a piano key; what they achieve is simply masterful.

I remember when I used to play adventure computer games I most often played horror ones, like “Shivers”, or “Gabriel Knight” and this is the sound that was keeping me hooked for hours at a time; “The monster” is a very immersive score which makes me feel very lonely and very afraid. Tomandandy used very little to create a simple and downright scary soundscape; the occasional loud scares and the rare emotional piano cues make the score even more poignant, even more affecting, and an atmospheric score to remember.

Cue rating: 98 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 63 / 69

Album excellence: 91%


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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