Soundtrack review: Cold skin (Victor Reyes – 2017)
“Cold Skin” is an upcoming French-Spanish sci-fi horror film directed by Xavier Gens. On the edge of the Antartic Circle, in the years after World War I, a steam ship approaches a desolate island far from all shipping lanes. On board is a young man, on his way to assume the lonely post of weather observer, to live in solitude for a year at the end of the world. But on shore he finds no trace of the man whom he has been sent to replace, just a deranged castaway who has witnessed a horror he refuses to name. The rest is forest, a deserted cabin, rocks, silence, and the surrounding sea. And then the night begins to fall. Victor Reyes wrote the score.
I wish there were more releases by Victor Reyes; everything I’ve heard from him so far has been excellent and his piano work is just among the best we can get these days. There are a lot of movies coming up from Spain and South America and a lot of talented composers from those areas and I think there should be more place for Reyes as well. The score opens with “Sea creatures / never too far” and I did not expect to hear ethnic wailing on this score; feels like I am listening to a cue from James Horner’s “Troy” and I like it. Victor Reyes doesn’t settle for a dark and scary texture; he writes music, he develops his cues and I am enjoying the melodic comfort of “There is your island” which has that majestic quality of monster movies, or better said, of monster movies where the monsters are huge. This feeling deepens with a heavy and electrifying cue like “Night visitors” which makes my skin crawl with fear. The music just builds up and builds up into one of the best horror cues I’ve heard this year and that’s a lot to say for a year where horror movies and scores reigned supreme. Reyes knows how to balm the wound of such a cue so a piece like “Desolation / defense” with it’s string opening is much welcomed.
No matter how dark or scary they are I like my horror and Sci-fi score to have a strong emotional component; I like this in any score really but for stories like these that happen to people, I need to feel their presence as well for the score to feel more complete. I am happy to find a cue like “Toads!” in this score with the strings and the heartbreak. The choral parts remind me of the heroic pieces in Michael Bay movies and everything I hear makes “Cold skin” a very rich and complex composition that covers the emotional, horror and action genres seamlessly and naturally in a very enjoyable and rewarding standalone listening experience. A cue like “Moaning” just never fails for me, with that soft vocal background and quietly heroic mood.
Even with a discrete presence of the piano, Victor Reyes writes a beautiful orchestral score that focuses on the human, heart beating element of the story. I love the complexity of every cue, the subtle yet poignant way the instruments are used and the sense of emotional purpose the music had. Do not miss this one.
Cue rating: 96 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 30 / 37
Album excellence: 81%
There Is Your Island
Desolation / Defense