The Return/Marianelli

December 4, 2006

 

It seems like lately there have been a lot of single word film releases and it is becoming a bit confusing. We have recently had The Dark, The Departed, The Prestige, and now another thriller/horror film The Return, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar best known for her role as Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The film also stars the veteran Sam Shepard and is directed by a relative newcomer Asif Kapadia. Drawn to a farmhouse where a murder was committed 15 years ago she discovers secrets she shouldn’t and that maybe they should have stayed hidden. With a 15 million dollar budget, the film does benefit from better special effects etc., but the first two weekend gross of 7 million dollars was deemed as disappointing by Rogue Pictures, although there was very little advertising at least in the Southern California area.

Marianelli, fast moving up the ladder of success with recent assignments for V for Vendetta, and Pride and Prejudice, approaches this score in a different fashion from many of the horror/slasher/thriller films. This movie soundtrack definitely benefits from being recorded by The Slovak National Symphony Orchestra. It doesn’t have that synthetic, brash, droning, and non music sound that many of the other horror scores offer these days. “The Girl With Two Souls”, as an example, is mysterious, slow building, and quiet, featuring only the strings, percussion, and woodwind sections. It is highly ominous in nature and you just know that it is foretelling things to come especially the use of the wind chimes! “Memory Lane” features some acoustic guitar strumming, a bit different from the norm for a horror movie, but it still has that ominous foreboding sound. “Terry Warms Up” is about as romantic as Dario was allowed to get on this score with some soft piano and clarinet work in a very largo track. “A Close Shave” and “Griff’s Garage” are more like what you might hear in a horror score but even these tracks are not over the top in terms of disturbing effects and noise. “Sweet Dreams (Of You)” sung by Patsy Cline is used as a signal that something supernatural is going to occur in the film. There are a couple of themes that are repeated several times in the score, not ones that your going to whistle leaving the theater or one that is going to be swirling around in your head but they are there and subtle like the overall score. “Sea Horses”, the final track, sums the soundtrack up quite nicely with a restatement from “The Girl With Two Souls” complete with the wind chimes.

There was a time when just the words Slovak Symphony would immediately put up a red flag. It could be ok or less than making you ponder why did my hard earned money go towards this? Didn’t my high school band sound just as good? Or certainly my college ensemble was better. This is no longer the case! The Slovak Symphony has learned the craft of recording soundtracks quite well these days and in most cases can be considered an asset and not a liability. That also can be said about the recordings and engineering as well. There use to be recordings which sounded like the mikes were set up 200 feet away from the orchestra producing a hollow distant sound. This recording is correctly miked! This recording is correctly played! If you haven’t already done so it is time to introduce yourself to Dario Marianeli. Put this score into the category of one of the better releases in 2006. It is recommended, definitely a thumbs up.

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