Even after a thorough soul search, I still have no idea why I buy horror movie soundtracks. I know why I watch horror movies, that’s an easy one: the expressive techniques, the visceral thrills, the
borderline sexual thrill of being scared.
Listening to soundtracks from horror films though? That’s far more difficult to reason. How can I possibly justify pottering around the house on a nice summery afternoon, while preparing some dinner for my wife, playing with the cat, organising my LEGO into colour-specific boxes, and listening to the pulsating, weird cacophony of Dario Argento’s Tenebrae. I’m basically a sicko.
However there has arrived a saviour. A modern horror film score truly worth listening to in public that doesn’t make you look like John Wayne Gacy having a little ‘me time’. Much like the finest John Carpenter soundtracks from the late 70s/early 80s, the score for It Follows is absolutely terrifying but has a pulsating, electronic verve that takes it far beyond dread-filled atmospherics, into a much more interesting place.
The film itself centres on Maika Monroe’s college student Jay, who after contracting a bizarre STI, is stalked by a series of threatening apparitions that seem to follow her with a deadly determination. It’s undoubtedly brilliant. But perhaps its true brilliance lies with the powerfully unnerving score by composer Disasterpeace (or Richard Vreeland to his parents), previously known for his chiptune work and the gorgeous soundtrack to videogame Fez.
‘Title’ forms the basis for most of the atmosphere-setting scenes, the repeating piano melody dips in and out, crushing, fuzzed-up bass creates the dread, and stabbing, almost organ like-synth chords create the unbearable tension. It sounds like it should be a discordant mess, but its surprisingly the most catchy piece of horror scoring created this decade.
‘Heels’ is the perfect accompaniment to sprinting away from a murderous assailant. Just pray you have this on your MP3 player if it ever happens to you, and not The Pina Colada song. Its genius is in the militaty-esque marching fuzzy percussion, offset with the tension ratcheting squeals of electronica that are the equal of Bernard Herrmann’s shower scene score from Psycho. These ‘stabs’ are reworked throughout the score, occurring when you least expect them (‘Old Maid’ is a particularly intense session).
Elsewhere, there is an airier touch, occasionally mimicking the soft, pulsating ambience of David Newman’s Heathers score. ‘Jay’, ‘Detroit’ and ‘Pool’ offer respite from the chase, with ‘Detroit’ in particular offering a glorious neon-tinged, workout that sounds very much like one of John Carpenter’s Lost Themes.
For the most part though, this is a work of nerve-jangling strangeness. It certainly takes its cues from Cliff Martinez’s work on Drive and the outstanding 80s influenced You’re Next by Mads Heldtberg, but this absolutely stands-out as a high benchmark in what is a claret-red age of horror movie soundtracks.