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UNTRACEABLE – Christopher Young

January 25, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Gregory Hoblit’s “Untraceable” was a film that seemed to be made with good intentions, but it never really worked. The film stars Diane Lane as an FBI Agent investigating a website that allows it’s visitors to help kill a victim. How? All they have to do is go to the website. The more hits it gets, the closer some innocent victim comes to their death. The film is essentially a disgusted sermon about our horrible, desensitized culture (which I agree with in principle), but it too willingly revels in the very depraved violence that it seems to be condemning.

If it’s a bad film in the horror/thriller genre, there’s a pretty good chance that it is receiving an overqualified score from composer Christopher Young. Year after year, Young receives a lot of lousy scoring assignments, and year after year, he provides them with scores that are intelligent, engaging, complex, and frightening. As “Untraceable” perhaps has a slightly more sympathetic protagonist than your average horror/thriller, Christopher Young centers his score around a rather attractive main theme. It seems simple on the surface, often just up-down-up-down guitar notes with a memorable melody played over the top by piano or strings. However, as always, Young finds many ways to work it into the fabric of the score, giving it a great deal of versatility and complexity. In some ways, the theme (and to a lesser degree, the score as a whole) echoes the music of Mychael and Jeff Danna for Hoblit’s previous film, “Fracture”.

The first two cues offer a more standard treatment of this theme before the first true thriller material appears in the chilly “Death After Life After Death”. The music is busy and tense, but also very spare at the time, lending it a creepy sensation that I really like. For instance, turbulent strings swirl around simple tapping percussion, and there’s nothing else… it feels like music for an empty room, something is missing, and it’s effective. “Session Locked” is low-key suspense writing, crafted so very well by Young. He’s one of the best modern composers when it comes to making such material engaging, refusing to simply provide the bland sound design that directors and producers in the genre are begging for these days. Writing in this vein continues for the next few cues, and will be genuinely compelling to those who are willing to give such music the attention it deserves.

There’s some almost “Jaws”-like brass swimming through the quietly intense “Viewer Executions”, and “Net Nuts” provides a brief respite from the intensity with another soft statement of the main theme. After the solid seven-minute piece “Incinerated in Cement”, the score climaxes with the frantic “Blinking the Code”, which closes things on a rather dramatic note. The album closes quite nicely in “Kill With Me”, the best version of the main theme on the album. I don’t suspect that “Untraceable” is going to be one of those scores that wins Young any new fans, but if you’re all ready into this kind of things from the composer, you’ll certainly be pleased by “Untraceable”. If only every score in this genre were written with as much thought and intelligence.

Rating: ****

Track Listing:

  • Untraceable (2:23)
  • Missing Flowers (2:43)
  • Death After Life After Death (2:42)
  • Session Locked (6:37)
  • Acid Decomposition (5:30)
  • Goudlylocks (2:35)
  • Viewer Executions (4:14)
  • Net Nuts (2:50)
  • Incinerated in Cement (7:22)
  • Blinking the Code (4:51)
  • Kill With Me (4:20)

Running Time: 45 minutes 01 seconds

Lakeshore Records LKS-33978 (2008)

Music composed by Christopher Young. Conducted by Allan Wilson. Orchestrations by Christopher Young, Sean McMahon, Sujin Nam, Martin St. Pierre and Brandon Verrett. Recorded and mixed by Peter Fuch. Edited by Thomas Milano. Album produced by Christopher Young, Max Blomgren and David Russell.

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