Ooo! More music!
CD + MP3: Innkeepers, The (2011)
Review Rating:   Very Good
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Screamworks Records

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January 31, 2012

Tracks / Album Length:

14 tracks / (40:15)


Composer: Jeff Grace

Special Notes:

Available on CD and as a digital album.

Comments :    

Jeff Grace’s latest score for director Ti West is a more melodic work, insofar as most cues are tied to the simple, haunting 3-note theme that immediately signals danger for the characters; or the secondary theme for poor Madeline (“The Story of Madelien”), the bride-never-to-be who chose to hang herself and has haunted the Yankee Peddlar Inn for decades.

Unlike Grace’s prior work (namely The Roost), where chamber instruments performed horrifying sounds to viciously enhance a film’s audience shocks, The Innkeepers flowing, broader canvas. Each cue is a carefully constructed chapter; a musical statement that advances thematic material but never ends with a solid resolution until the End Titles wrap-up. When there are moments of soothing harmony, they’re transitional, as the thematic bits are often at the mercy of the tonal undercurrents.

For incidents of fight or flight (the characters inevitably choose flight in the face of generally unseen horror), Grace conjures an addictive jig which propels scenes and adds extra momentum to the increased states of distress between Claire and Luke, the inn’s clerks, and would-be ghost hunters. The musical jig is first introduced in the stirring (and sadly brief Main Title sequence) but is given a slightly fuller rendition in the end credit suite on the CD, with some interesting brass effects coming through more clearly (namely, a bizarre shimmer that’s a cross between metallic rattling and snarling dog).

Both in the film and score, director West and composer Grace respectively milk audience expectations by sustaining shots and musical chords before a major shock, and the best moments of visual and aural terror include “Last Bit of Nostalgia,” where Grace plunges the orchestra into a watery pool of swirling bass when Claire discovers the last guest’s final act in the bathroom; and the great interplay between sustained tones and ill-bent harmonies, snarling string figures, feral brass, shimmering percussion, and slight choral effects in the nasty “Claire Falls.”

In terms of deriving terrifying musical horror from a chamber orchestra, Grace may be the best around due to his has a knack for isolating and intermeshing sharp colours with clear end-results. The orchestrations and performances are always first-rate, and the score is beautifully nestled between the film’s disturbing sound design.

MovieScore Media’s album features a slightly reordered arrangement of cues, but it’s a fulfilling narrative that’s pleasingly unsettling when played discretely after midnight, preferably when one is very much home alone.



© 2012 Mark R. Hasan

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