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Soundtrack review: Shimmer Lake (Joseph Trapanese – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Shimmer Lake (Joseph Trapanese – 2017)



“Shimmer Lake” is a 2017 American crime film written and directed by Oren Uziel. The film stars Benjamin Walker, Wyatt Russell, Rainn Wilson, Adam Pally, John Michael Higgins, Ron Livingston, Stephanie Sigman and Rob Corddry. The film was released on Netflix on June 9, 2017. An inventive crime thriller told backwards — reversing day by day through a week — following a local sheriff’s quest to unlock the mystery of three small town criminals and a bank heist gone wrong. Joseph Trapanese wrote the score.

I’m always excited about a Trapanese score; I like the freshness and nuances of his electronic and orchestral sound. In this score as well, the title theme combines a nervous trembling cello motif with a melodic electronic one and this duality is enjoyable right from the start. Things get way darker in the next cue “Fruit loop” which is a proper horror cue with a constant menacing whirring sound in the background. By the time a simple ambient motif starts I am already worried and at unease. This uncomfortable and abrasive sound continues and it marks a change in my perception of Joseph Trapanese’s music as the melodic tones are suffocated by the darkness. That horror like tortured cello motif appears again and it’s my favourite thing from this score so far.

I am a fan of both Trapanese and minimalistic music but for once what I am hearing doesn’t work very well on its own; maybe it’s too quiet and tense and I need to make efforts to hear the music and make sense of it. I am sure this is the sound and mood the director asked for and in the context of the movie it probably is just what the story needs to be enhanced but for my ambient standalone fix, this is not working. What I do like are the short western like moments with the strings and some of the horror bits. Those tortured strings always make me feel something and it’s one of those sounds that I look for in a thriller or horror score.

“Shimmer lake” is not the best Joseph Trapanese score but it’s one of his first tries to get into the horror genre. The score succeeds in creating a quiet and uncomfortable atmosphere and maybe this is what the composer went for. There is one cue that satisfies me completely, “Chris judged”, where I recognise the Trapanese sound I love.

Cue rating: 77 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 7 / 45

Album excellence: 17%

Chris Judged
Main Theme (Extended – Bonus Track)

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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