Home > Reviews > THE INVASION – John Ottman

THE INVASION – John Ottman

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The umpteenth remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers to reach big screens since Don Siegel’s 1956 original, the latest version – The Invasion – was directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (the acclaimed German director of Der Untergang) and stars Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Jeremy Northam, and again tells the tale of an alien organism which comes to earth and begins to systematically overtake humanity by creating emotionless clones of people, which then murder their human counterpart and assume their identity.

John Ottman’s score is one of his better recent efforts, a creepy orchestral and choral score which also uses a healthy dose of electronics to impressive effect. The opening cue, “Life Goes On/Dance of the Cells”, is actually slightly reminiscent of the way Denny Zeitlin opened his score for the 1978 version of the story, with unsettling electronic effects that dance around the orchestra and chorus to illustrate the notion of an alien presence insinuating itself into the world.

The action music is similarly exciting, with a rhythmic orchestral undercurrent and innovative electronic textures that actually accentuate the music rather than detracting from it. Pieces such as “Escape with Ollie/Basement”, “Carol and Ben Plot” and “Carol’s Wild Ride” are effective and enjoyable, while elsewhere Ottman allows his orchestra to enter the realms of the avant-garde, performing a series of increasingly dissonant and experimental ides. Cues such as “Mid-Transformation”, “Subway/Blending In” stand as some of the most compositionally interesting tracks we have heard from Ottman in years; occasionally, they sound like throwbacks to something Alex North or Jerry Fielding might have written in their most challenging moments, which is praise indeed!

Similarly, the electronics are used to add a depth and sonic range to the music which the orchestra alone could not provide; when synths are used this way, as an extension to the orchestral palette rather than a replacement for it, their inclusion is most welcome. The Invasion is not a score which easy to listen to often, or easy to like, but as an example of the kind of interesting, innovating music John Ottman is capable of composing it’s definitely worth checking out.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Life Goes On/Dance of the Cells (3:46)
  • Escape with Ollie/Basement (3:30)
  • All Aboard (2:15)
  • Mid-Transformation (3:49)
  • Subway/Blending In (4:04)
  • Census Taker/Search on a Whim (2:32)
  • Carol and Ben Plot (3:36)
  • Warning Wendy/Taster’s Choice (1:45)
  • Hit and Sit/Dropping Off Ollie (2:04)
  • Under the Microscope/Call for Help (1:50)
  • Trick or Treat/Bad Boy (1:51)
  • Family Bliss/It’s a Pickle (2:33)
  • Carol’s Wild Ride (3:24)
  • I Need You/I Already Slept (2:40)
  • Falling Asleep/We Touched It (3:49)
  • Wake Up!/A Better World? (3:31)
  • Final Escape (1:57)

Running Time: 48 minutes 57 seconds

Varèse Sarabande VSD-6837 (2007)

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