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Soundtrack review: Frankenstein (Halli Cauthery – 2015)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Frankenstein (Halli Cauthery – 2015)


“Frankenstein” is a new adaptation of the story from filmmaker Bernard Rose, best known for directing Candyman. In this modern retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic, the story is told told entirely from the perspective of the Monster. Set in contemporary Los Angeles, the artificially created named Adam is left for dead by a husband-and-wife team of eccentric scientists – yet he lives. As the monster is confronted with nothing but aggression and violence from the world around him. This perfect creation-turned disfigured create must come to grips with the horrific nature of humanity, making us question who the real monster is in the process. The score was written by Halli Cauthery.

The score opens with “Syringe” which presents the contrast that’s at the centre of the story: a creepy industrial motif followed by a warm melodic piano theme that shows the emotional aspect. Right from the first cue that emotional motif is cut every now and then by a scary “creatures crawling on the wall” insert that makes me feel very uneasy. A very jumpy and meaningful cue. “Deserve to die” is next with a dark, gothic coral elegy that chills me to the bone. The chorus turns into a heroic musical motif that inspires me and makes me think of Vikings.

The music is quite varied as the composer goes to thriller electronic next. The back and forth between action and emotion mimics what happens in the story and the score never settles in one mood; the piano from “In pain” is followed by the mechanic action cue “Flight” which makes me want to get off my chair and run. THere’s also that electric pulse that Steve Jablonsky uses often in his Transformer cues. I like how this cue dies down with an echo as if the adrenaline is still there once the fight or the running ends.

I like it that the score isn’t exaggeratedly dark or dramatic; this makes the human element feel the most important and the music is believable. The composer didn’t just think Frankenstein and wrote a dark terrifying score; he mixes quieter, more melodic elements with truly scary one like “Monster awakens”. Every part of the album has meaning and makes for an enjoyable standalone listen: the horror moments act like a seal that keeps the light and hope outside while the calmer pieces let that hope in, even if they are heartbreaking like “Control your dog”. The score plays like a story and I feel like I walk next to the main character all the way. Dark ambient piano cues like “Biopsy” and “How we made you”, which reminded me of the music of “Saw”, will always please me the most.

“Frankenstein” is a short and intense composition that works very well as a standalone listen. The combination of different elements and moods make it enjoyable from start to finish. Halli Cauthery wrote a score as scary as I expected but much more emotional than I would have thought and it’s always nice to get to know a new composer like this.

Cue rating: 90 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 18 / 35

Album excellence: 49%

Deserve to Die
Monster Awakens
Control Your Dog
How We Made You

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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