The Newton Brothers
Dr Sleep (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
I’ve yet to read the book, but I probably will since I’m gearing up to dive deep back into the world of Stephen King – but I saw the film and liked the film, particularly given it had a lot to live up to, sequel-ing The Shining – one of King’s greatest early triumphs and one of the all-time great suspense horror/existential-terror films.
I’ll probably give the film another go too – and one of the reasons is because I loved the music, which I’m now enjoying all on its own, finding – as is not always the case with horror films, it has to be said – that the music works on its own away from the images for which it was created.
Okay, there are so many great horror film scores – Jaws, Psycho, Halloween and Friday the 13th are all up there. A second wave might include The Howling, Close Encounters, A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Shining of course. And well, it comes down to personal preference pretty quickly.
But we’re in safe hands here with this score because The Newton Brothers (Andy Grush and Taylor Newton Stewart) not only trained under Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman, they’ve also built an impressive catalogue of their own hits across the last decade and in particular, for much of it, there’s a strong working relationship with director Mike Flanagan. Their music for his Netflix gem, Hush was taut, dramatic and understood the right notes between terror cues and the construction more of sound-design than musical composition.
From there they’ve continued to work with Flanagan across small and large screen and their Dr Sleep score might be their finest work to date.
We begin with Dies Irae, an opening sequence that incorporates aspects from The Shining’s score, a nice touch, an aural blur that evokes the past (in the film chronology) and sets up and eerie feel moving into a piece called 237 (named for the famous hotel room in the original book and movie). There are great suspense pieces (Please Talk Please) that seem to have borrowed from ideas across the horror spectrum and there abrasive washes of noise that have more to do with music from the last quarter century (Rattlesnake) and in particular could have come from the Atticus Ross/Trent Reznor school of scoring as much as any nod to Carpenter or Harry Manfredini (Friday the 13th). But those old-school tendencies are there too, the knowledge is there, the palette – they know how to ratchet up a scare-scene quickly (Spoons) and build a mood across several minutes (The Hat, The Snake & Dan). There are wonderful creeping moments throughout (The Looker) and it even gets to the point, listened to away from the movie’s images, where the music is actually doing the storytelling (Astral Projection).
Just a wonderful piece of score-work.
I’m hooked on this. It’s allowing me to replay the film in my mind. It’s also creating soundtracks for my activities far removed from the movie.
You can support Off The Tracks via PressPatron