With the help of his son, Cody, and fellow musician Daniel Davies, John Carpenter has come back to compose the score for Halloween: his first film composition since 2001’s Ghost of Mars. The soundtrack, courtesy of Sacred Bones Records, is currently up for pre-order and will be released on October 19th. Notably, there are at least ten vinyl variants and a jewel case CD, with the score also being made available for digital download.
The opening track is subtle, mysterious and eerily denotes something’s inevitably going to ensue. Something inordinately violent and intense. For the perspicacious audience, it’s equal parts disquieting and tragic, particularly as you recall the events of the 1978 film. It gives off this strange, almost otherworldly vibe of drifting or being lulled away and steadily descending into the unknown; only, we’ve been here before.
Cue the classic 5/4 time meter, only more electric and sharp. Perhaps John Carpenter’s most memorable leitmotif, the Halloween theme gets a revamped version which manages to maintain the original’s striking simplicity, all the while creating its very own lingering tension and sense of foreboding.
The next couple of tracks are haunting and practically elegiac. David Gordon Green’s Halloween sequel is predominantly about trauma; more precisely, Laurie Strode’s trauma and how it has shaped her over the natural course of time. She’s well aware Michael won’t remain locked up forever, and just as the threat of danger methodically creeps forward, it becomes more of a “When?” rather than a “Why?” and that notion is expanded upon in tracks 3 and 4 to great effect.
I’m not ashamed to say that, as I sat there and listened intently, not only had the score made the hair on my arms stand up and gave me goosebumps, it also made my eyes water slightly. What makes the score so compellingly emotive here, is how well it accentuates Laurie’s evolution as a survivor and, because she’s a character we’ve known and loved for all these years, knowing she’ll again have to face her inexorable assailant, is nerve-racking.
The score kicks into gear and, boy, it is pulsating and doesn’t let up. “The Shape” is this unyielding, unrestrained evil and once the soundtrack gets into a section totally dominated by unsettling strings at neck breaking speed, you know shit just hit the fan. It’s easily imaginable that Michael Myers is pissed off and whatever is going down at this part of the film — it must be gut-wrenching and horrific. It’s energetic and surely designed for what, potentially, may very well become some of the franchise’s most memorable sequences.
There was a lot of effort put into this score, without a doubt. Horror movie compositions are typically hit or miss, and most rely heavily on loud stings and virtually inaudible hums that connect one obnoxious sound to another. Thankfully, that couldn’t be further from the truth here. Without having seen the film yet, the score itself is wonderfully thought provoking and powerful. It’s creepy, sad, violent, shocking, wickedly intense, thunderous and epic. It’s just absolutely incredible. It screams of a well-rounded movie that fires on all cylinders, and if this score is any indication, it’s certainly promising.
Track 20 is exciting on a sort of celestial level. Each second is even more rich and amplified than the last. It tugs at the strings of your heart once you’ve fully absorbed the previous 19 tracks and all of the nuances John, Cody, and Daniel have provided us with. This is even more powerful when you take both of the events of the original Carpenter film and this one into consideration; then the final track is a celebration of all of it.
There are even pieces that feel epic compared to most other score entries in this franchise. It doesn’t borrow so much from the original score as you (and I) have likely assumed it would’ve. In fact, it’s almost entirely its own thing and it works beautifully. Even as a Halloween fanboy, I didn’t quite expect this. I knew I’d like it, or at least I’d hoped I would. It’s fascinating from start to finish and I’m overwhelmed with how much I love it. I feel almost as if though I cannot yet function properly enough to professionally put my thoughts into words. I’m shaky, hyped up and impatiently awaiting the arrival of Halloween.
I do have a complaint, however. Chalk this up to personal preference, but I felt some of the tracks were too short. It’s most definitely a must-get purchase for both music lovers and Halloween fans, alike. You don’t have to be interested in horror movies to enjoy a score like this. There are 21 tracks, none of which fall short of excellent. There was one track I was sort of surprised not to hear here, but it’s actually not a big, big deal. I just kind of assumed that, because it was featured in some of the promotional material, we may hear it here in full.
Be sure to check out both the film and its soundtrack in two weeks, on October 19th. Warning: Some of the track titles are rather spoiler-y, so watch the film first and then purchase the soundtrack.