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Soundtrack review: Primal rage (Ceiri Torjussen – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Primal rage (Ceiri Torjussen – 2018)

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“Primal rage” is a 2018 horror movie. Lost deep in the forest of the Pacific Northwest, Ashley and Max Carr are stalked by a terrifying creature that might be Bigfoot. Soon they find themselves embroiled in a strange land of Native American myth and legend turned real. Hopelessly trying to survive, with a handful of unsavory locals, they must fight back against this monster in a desperate battle of life or death. Ceiri Torjussen wrote the score.

Horror scores, scary scores can be written in lots of ways; if the composer has creative freedom he can choose to go the loud route, the sudden route or the quiet route depending on what he thinks works best. Me as a film music fan, I like my scores to be atmospheric, textural and multi dimensional and these are all attributes that come to mind as I listen to the opening of “Primal rage”; this cue is so much more than just scary, it’s in the same time melodic, captivating and, in a way, beautiful. It’s the longest track of the score and by the end of it I feel the composer has created a meaningful atmosphere that evokes a dangerous landscape but also the live, warm, human element. I know right from the start that I am in for a gripping score, as palpitating as a novel you can’t let out of your hands.

A textural score is usually a bold decision from a composer because there is no place to hide; the atmosphere you create either works and keeps the listener and the viewer connected or it doesn’t and then there’s no theme or melody to save you. In the case of “Primal rage”, the composer doesn’t need to hide, maybe only from the huge creature. Usually the most efficient way to listen to a horror score is alone, in the dark but for me the true measure of a scary album is how if affects me if I listen to it in broad daylight and in a safe environment. For me a scary score is the strongest when it tears through that safe environment and drops me in the middle of a place I want to get out as soon as possible. Ceiri Torjussen plays with my emotion using all sorts of sounds and sound effects, most of them quiet as they give me the feeling of something terrifying stalking me constantly; stalking is a key element of the story and the composer uses crawling, screeching sounds and wooden sounds to also remind me this takes place in a forest. Every now and then the music goes mad and frantic and I guess that’s when it’s time to run.

There are moments when this score is brilliantly constructed: I just love to hear a cue like “Protecting wife” which is somehow both scary and tender, it walks carefully and lightly and it’s almost poetic. With pieces like this and hacking, sawing tracks like “it wasn’t that funny”, “Primal rage” builds up into a gripping musical story. Quite often I say horror scores need to be short and intense but in this case, the way the layers come one over the other, the way different moods blend into each other, the longer the better. Listening to this score in itself it’s an adventure and as scary as it is, I want to take part in all of it. Ceiri Torjussen wrote a minimalistic, textural score that still manages to be varied and fascinating and call me crazy but the “Oh-mah” themes written for the beast were actually haunting in a beautiful, jungle like way. I like ambient music and there are a fews little gems that even with their creepy undertone, relax me and induce a reflective nature mood. I don’t know what traditional woodwind instrument was used but I just love it.

“Primal rage” is a complex horror score with a twist, actually with a few twists on top that make it something more composers should take note of and be inspired by to not settle for generic scary.

Cue rating: 90 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 39 / 63

Album excellence: 63%

Highlights:
Primal Rage Opening
Corpse
First Victims
Protecting Wife
It Wasn’t That Funny
Big Footchase
Big Mouth
Big Shot
The Oh-Mah 1
House Creeps
The Oh-Mah 2
Beasts Lair
Native Ceremony
Bad Trip 1
Old Lady
Battle Ready
Hunters
Reunion
Hairy Chase
Supper for Sasquatch

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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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