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Soundtrack review: The strangers: Prey at night (Adrian Johnston – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The strangers: Prey at night (Adrian Johnston – 2018)

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“THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT” is a reboot of Bryan Bertino’s 2008 cult classic The Strangers. The movie stars Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson and Bailee Madison. A road trip to visit relatives takes a dangerous turn when a family arrives at a secluded mobile home park that’s mysteriously deserted — until three masked psychopaths show up. Adrian Johnston wrote the score.

I like the main theme which opens the score because it has that clear piano sound that made the “Saw” franchise music so pleasant for me; it’s a fresh take on a horror atmosphere, livelier and captivating, easier to connect to. It’s not just the opening cue but the composer comes with up with a sound that makes me interested in the story he wants to tell; his music is not linear and I need to be alert all the time to hear a subtle piano motif sneaking behind me or a quiet tortured string motif wailing in the background. The music is alive and it just surrounds me like a dense, thick mist that fills up a room I cannot leave. There is a multitude of ways to write an efficient horror score and this is one of the best; even when I am listening to wordless music I like to be told a story, I like to picture an epic thread, an evolution and I get that in “The strangers: Prey at night”; take a cue like “Is Tamara home?” which is a combination of dreamy whimsical and horror, of reflective and uncomfortable that makes me want to listen to it again and explore it further.

Adrian Johnston not only crafts a thick and affecting atmosphere with this score but he creates an entire soundscape for the the terrifying situation in which the main characters find themselves with borderline torturing motifs every now and then, here aggressively hitting with hammers, here piercing with a very thin but very sharp needle. Sometimes his experiments go into unintelligible places but these creative choices make sense in the context of the story and on the suffocating, “Purge” like tension of the movie.

“The strangers: Prey at night” is a score that brings the terror and discomfort of a home invasion without needing the support of script or images; the wealth of sounds and the way they connect make this a dense composition that takes its toll as a standalone listen because it puts me in a very uncomfortable mood. There’s no time to take a break as the stalking feeling is loud and constant. This only means the composer did his job and did it right as I’m sure his music enhances the impact of the movie.

Cue rating: 85 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 21 / 48

Album excellence: 43%

Highlights:
Gatlin Lake Getaway Welcomes You!
Is Tamara Home?
On The Run
Remember That Time?
Inferno
Deliverance
End Titles

Tags:
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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