Not unlike The Roost (2005), The Hills Run Red (2009), or Scream 2 (1997) for that matter, Midnight Movie sports a film-within-a-film segment or two, and composer Penka Kouneva has fun wafting between the fake B-movie film, The Dark Beneath, and MM itself.
The bulk of MM’s score is built around a 3-note motif which Kouneva warps into malevolent variations, or develops into a meatier statement on festering evil, as in the title cut “Darkness and Fear.” A sense of solitude is expressed through a fragmentary melody on piano (“Bridget, Your Father is not Here”), evoking a lost, wandering victim in the dangerous darkness, and giving the otherwise chilly score a bit of fleeting humanity.
Most of the score is performed on synthesizer, emulating the vintage sounds of late eighties/early nineties slasher films – a design that makes it easy for the composer to blur the line between the two realities in MM, as well riff some iconic genre scores, such as John Carpenter’s lilting 2-note motif from Halloween on piano (“To Face Your Fears”). The digital processing isn’t overbearing, but it does transform a few cues into sound design rather than atmospheric score.
The brevity of some cues also affects the score’s flow, but the quiet spots are quickly goosed with shock stabs, brief chase motifs (such as the electrified “Mario Enjoys Sparkles”), and a few stereo tricks that create the odd enveloping or shoulder-side shock (like the rapping percussion in “Josh’s Eye” and “Bridget in the Basement”).
When it isn’t rooted in familiar slasher sound effects, Kouneva sometimes creates a musical sound reminiscent of an old theatre organ, emphasizing fat chords and heavy fugues, and there’s an amusing quotation of “Gayane’s Ballet Suite” in the chiming, effects-textured “Bobby at the House,” one of the Dark Beneath cues.
Howling Wolf Records’ limited CD features Kouneva’s complete score, including unused and expanded cues, and lengthy liner notes in the meaty booklet. Those expecting a robust, dissonant orchestral score will probably be disappointed – the film’s budget was perhaps too modest – but it’s a successful emulation of vintage synth writing, sometimes recalling Fred Mollin’s music for Friday the 13th: The Series, albeit with a more classical slant.
© 2010 Mark R. Hasan