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Soundtrack review: Wish upon (Tomandandy -2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Wish upon (Tomandandy -2017)


In Wish Upon, the new horror thriller from the director of Annabelle, 17-year-old Clare Shannon (Joey King) is barely surviving the hell that is high school, along with her friends, Meredith (Sydney Park) and June (Shannon Purser). So, when her dad (Ryan Phillippe) gifts her an old music box with an inscription that promises to grant the owner’s wishes, she thinks there is nothing to lose. Clare makes her first wish and, to her surprise, it comes true. Before long, she finally has it all: money, popularity and her dream boy. Everything seems perfect—until the people closest to her begin dying in gruesome and twisted ways. Now, with blood on her hands, Clare has to get rid of the box, before it costs her and everyone she loves the ultimate price. Tomandandy, who are making quite a name for themselves in horror this year, wrote the score.

Tomandandy usually like to insert romantic piano themes in their horror scores and this one is no different; “Opening” is the nicest little piano cue that doesn’t announce anything bad until the music dissolves into dark ambient at the end. “First wish” is an even prettier piano theme and I can’t wait to hear how it all goes to hell when the terror starts. That same piano theme is very cleverly reworked in an unsettling manner in “A second wish” to get the tension started. And tension we get with a suddenly scary middle section before the music box sound returns to close the cue.

“Wish upon” is the third horror Tomandandy score I am listening to this year and, to the composers’ credit, each of them was different from the other; “47 meters down” was quietly atmospheric, “The monster” was suffocating ambient tension while this one relies much more on the contrast between the piano and the uncomfortable industrial sounds. The music is mostly quiet and the cues are almost always varied as contrasting motifs clash with each other to suggest frantic movements and changes of pace. There is also a loud, disonnant horror motif that raises the hair on the back of my head; it appears at the end of “Extended family” right in between two instances of a sweet piano theme and also in “Dream”.

For me the entire score plays like a dream or a hallucination; the sounds the composers use, the schizophrenic use of the piano and the scary motifs make me feels as if all this is an illusion. The music is very enjoyable, from ambient to scary to tense and there are surprises lurking in the corner of every cue. There are weird experimental pieces like “Maybe”, almost retro sounding synth moments like “Investigate” or “Disposal” and confusing tracks like “Lost”. All these different puzzle pieces fit together well and I am enjoying this tripy musical journey. When I listen to “Intrude” I have Radiohead “Kid A” flashbacks.

Even if it will not be for everybody to enjoy, “Wish upon” is a very interesting and clever composition to listen to. I wouldn’t call it a horror score per se as the scares are few and scattered but it is a composition that mimics insanity very well.

Cue rating: 85 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 22 / 42

Album excellence: 52%

The Wish Box
Second Wish
Extended Family
Third Wish
Like Her
Two Wishes Left
A New Day

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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