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Soundtrack review: What still remains (Jonathan Beard – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: What still remains (Jonathan Beard – 2018)

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Twenty-five years after a viral outbreak decimates the population, the remaining survivors still fear that deadly illness and the change it created. Against this post-apocalyptic backdrop, a young woman loses her family and struggles to survive on her own in the wilderness. When a lonely traveler offers her a place in his community, she must decide if the promise of a better life is worth the risk of trusting him. This is the plot for “What still remains” and the music was written by Jonathan Beard.

Well as I have mentioned before the apocalyptic / post apocalyptic / horror genres have knows quite an explosion in recent years and I think if someone made a statistic, the horror would rule the film world. Composers have tried to keep it varied and exciting but there is the danger of some sort of fatigue coming on. As I am writing these thoughts the music in my ears catches my attention and tries to show me that this is the kind of score that will not add to that fatigue. The music isn’t quiet and tense, instead the composer gives it life, gives it string motifs to evoke the presence of real people who go through emotions and feel things. I was a but worried that I might run into a generic, tense score that would work better in the context of the movie but it’s not the case. This is the kind of character oriented apocalypse score, like Bear McCreary wrote for “The Walking dead” and it gets me invested in the story. Even the truly emotional moments like “Anna’s mother dies” have a certain hope, a determination about them as the electronic texture balances the cello drama.

I have always been more drawn to horror scores with a warm emotional core, to scores that don’t only focus on describing the desolate and terrifying atmosphere but also include the actual characters in the music. I am getting my fix here with the poignant string pieces, usually related to Anna’s character, pieces that could work very well on a regular drama. Once again I need to remark that the emotional depth in some cues makes me think of the TWD score. There is also an implacable weight in some parts of this score, a weight that keeps me invested and doesn’t let the music fade into the background.

Jonathan Beard doesn’t ignore the harsh and doubtful landscape of the story; he simply balances it in his music with the tribulations of the main character. The atmosphere of the score is one of constant unease and conflict between cold and warm. I like my scores to have a story in them and I find a narrative thread in “What still remains”. This is the kind of composition I will always chalk in the plus column because if left me with something inside once it was over.

Cue rating: 83 / 100

Highlights:
Anna’s Mother Dies
Anna Joins Peter
God Doesn’t Choose Sides
Arrival at the Village
David’s Cross
Prayer at the Grave
Anna Explores the Wall
What Still Remains End Credits Suite

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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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