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Soundtrack review: Bad samaritan (Joseph LoDuca – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Bad samaritan (Joseph LoDuca – 2018)

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“Bad Samaritan” is a 2018 American horror-thriller film directed by Dean Devlin and written by Brandon Boyce. The film stars David Tennant and Robert Sheehan, with Carlito Olivero, Kerry Condon, and Jacqueline Byers in supporting roles. Sheehan portrays the title character, a valet who burglarizes the houses of the drivers he services, only to discover one of his rich customers (Tennant) is a kidnapper and torturer. David Tennant as a psycho, I’m always up for that. Joseph LoDuca wrote the score, and I definitely am always up for his music.

The opening cue “Portland” is surprisingly melodic and suave even; it sounds more like the end credits of an idyllic, sweeping love story. Portland must be a really nice town by the sound of this. I know horror scores and movies often start with the portrayal of how nice life was before something happens but I did not expect to find cues like this one or “A smile out of him”, a bright, positive Thomas Newman like piece. I know this almost pastoral passage will be over soon but I am really enjoying it.

The chills start coming once “Derek heist” plays and the tone turns to electronic thriller before plunging into a tense textural abyss. Joseph LoDuca knows how to create a dense, uncomfortable atmosphere that lures me in only to scare me as soon as I enter. There are two massive suspenseful cues, “Devil’s house” and “The captive” that set the tone for the score and create the ambience which will also help with the enjoyment of the movie. I recognize in the second half of “The captive” the mood that worked so well in “Army of darkness” for example, that lively horror waltz that breaks the tension. Little surprises like this or the occasional retro motif make the score work also as a standalone listening experience.

Still this score is long, I would say a bit too long for what it offers though; 70 minutes of tension sparkled with frantic action moments that could have benefited from, say a 40 minutes run time as some of the filler moments would have gone away. I find enjoyable moments but there are also long passages when the tense texture stays in the background and the music looses me. I need to focus to get back to paying attention and I guess this is the curse of quiet, tense compositions outside the context of the movie they were written for. What keeps me going and listening until the end is Joseph LoDuca’s ability to insert small unexpected nuggets every now and then, be they an instrument played differently that it’s supposed to or some creepy sound effects.

If you extract a 35-40 minutes long playlist from “Bad samaritan” which should definitely include the first two cues and the fairy tale Americana last one, you’ll have a much better chance of enjoying it and returning to it in the future.

Cue rating: 70 / 100

Highlights:
Portland
A Smile Out Of Him
End Credits

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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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