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Soundtrack review: Eloise (Ronen Landa – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Eloise (Ronen Landa – 2017)

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“Eloise” is a 2017 American thriller film directed by Robert Legato and written by Christopher Borrelli. The film stars Eliza Dushku, Robert Patrick, Chace Crawford, Brandon T. Jackson, Nicole Forester, and P. J. Byrne. Four friends break into an abandoned insane asylum in search of a death certificate which will grant one of them a large inheritance. However, finding it soon becomes the least of their worries in a place haunted by dark memories. The movie can be bad even but there are two names on the poster which are royalty to a geek like me, Eliza Dushku and Robert Patric so I will watch the movie. Ronen Landa wrote the score.

I know Ronen Landa from a few horror scores and he wastes no time in making an impression with the “Overture” which is my kind of horror cue because it’s orchestral and broad and more fantasy like then horror; the piano and the powerful and sometimes tortured string section morph into an uncomfortable sounding electronic motif that makes me think of dirty lights flickering and I am already exploring the asylum one cue in. When it’s not scary the score is surprisingly emotional; I listen to “Aunt Genevieve”, a lush piano theme with short melancholic horn and flute motifs that give it a subtle tenderness and I forget about troubles and the horror plot. The mystery is still there though as the composer intelligently brings that minimalistic electronic shadow in here as well. I am quite immersed in this particular cue since the piano strokes play like a hologram that changes shape depending on the viewing angle: sometimes it’s romantic, other times scary and the same piano motif can do both. I just love complex compositions like this one.

I like a thriller or horror score where the piano sometimes sounds as if it’s improvised because it adds to the feeling of mystery and exploration of the music; it doesn’t let me drift of or feel safe as the tone and mood can change any second. The music feels alive, a separate entity and this is the strength of this score: both the melodic and the unnerving motifs are just as enjoyable and affecting. The scary cues are terrific and the quieter pieces are pleasant. There are pure horror cues like “From the catacombs to the Annex” and “Pia’s vision” that don’t let any light in and make me feel relief that I am listening to this score in broad daylight. I also like how the composer didn’t treat this like just a generic horror story but took the story elements like the asylum, the memories and the emotions of the characters.

“Eloise” is a dense horror score done right; when Ronen Landa turns on the scares his music does a better job than movies I saw. He manages to create a terrifying atmosphere with strange and violent sound coming from all directions while in the same time creating a warm emotional core that by contrast makes the score work even better. Definitely give this one a listen.

Cue rating: 88 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 24 / 50

Album excellence: 49%

Highlights:
Eloise: Overture
Aunt Genevieve
From the Catacombs to the Annex
Pia’s Visions
A Watery Grave
Medicine is Not an Exact Science
Farewell to Genevieve
Buried Again
Theme from Eloise

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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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