Home > Reviews > THE UNINVITED – Christopher Young

THE UNINVITED – Christopher Young

January 30, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There is something in the work of certain composers which makes them predisposed to be great at horror movie music. There’s something in the way they write, in their personality, in their musical language, which somehow manages to capture both the subtle nuance and sheer outright terror that horror movies require from their scores. Christopher Young is one of those composers. Although he has enjoyed successes in a wide variety of genres over his long and successful career, Young keeps coming back to horror: from his early day on films like The Dorm That Dripped Blood and A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, through his classic Hellraiser scores, to more recent and popular box office hits like The Grudge and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, horror has always been a fertile feeding ground for Young’s talents. To start 2009, Young has again dipped his toes into the chilling pool, and emerged with The Uninvited: one of the best, and downright scariest horror scores in quite some time.

The film, which is directed by brothers Charles and Thomas Guard, and stars Emily Browning, Elizabeth Banks and David Strathairn, is a loose remake of the excellent 2003 Korean horror movie A Tale of Two Sisters, which became something of a cult in Europe hit after its cinematic release as part of the ‘Asia Extreme’ series. Browning stars as Anna Rydell, a troubled young girl who returns home to her family after spending an unspecified period in a mental institution. However, Anna’s road to recovery becomes threatened thanks to two presences in her life: her cold and calculating stepmother Rachael (Banks), who has a hidden agenda, and the malevolent ghost which seems to be haunting her father’s house.

Young’s marvelous score begins in “The Uninvited” with one of those chillingly beautiful themes at which he excels, all swooning strings and icy female vocalists, which somehow simultaneously manages to both seduce and unnerve the listener. If you are familiar Young’s work on scores like Copycat, or Bless the Child, or Jennifer 8, you’ll know the kind of music I’m talking about; this is in the same vein, and is just as effective as it has always been.

Choral writing plays a prominent part in the bulk of the score, although rather than the come-hither enticement of the opening cue, Young instead uses his voices in an unquestionably frightening fashion. Cues such as “I’m At a Party” and the wonderfully alarming “Corpse Christmas” resonate to unearthly coos and groans, the lamentable siren songs of the damned, while others, notably “Bloody Milk”, are enlivened by dissonant orchestral stingers and moments of musical chaos which can make the unwary leap from their seats with shivers coursing down their spines. Most unsettlingly of all, Young sometimes makes his choir whisper not-so-sweet nothings in your ear, as if the ghosts are trying to talk to you. I defy any listener to sit in the dark, listening to the misleading music box prettiness of “Twin Nightmares”, or the disturbing glossolalia of “Cry of Love” or “The Screaming Bell” on headphones, and not be more than a little uncomfortable.

Elsewhere, there is a gently soothing but, again, subtly unsettling piano motif in “Twice Told Tales”, which eventually segues into a brooding cello solo of vivid depth; “Glass Tales” is a clever, barely-disguised tribute to a composer he admires (the title of the cue is a dead giveaway); while “Pairs in Love” provides a brief moment of musical warmth with some vaguely Thomas Newman-esque thematic string writing which is quite lovely. “Working Dreams” is a dramatic piece of crescendo-filled revelation, which features some of the metallic percussion he used to such good effect back in Hellraiser, and “A Dance With no One” is actually a quite bold and forceful action cue; thankfully, everything ends on a note of blessed relief in the conclusive “Tale of Two Sisters”, which features several lovely variations on the main theme and leaves the listener with a slightly more easy feeling as the album ends.

One of the things I like the most about The Uninvited – and what has been a hugely positive trademark of Young’s entire career – is how the thrills and chills are generated on a predominantly orchestral level. Unlike many of his contemporaries, and with the exception of a few pulses here and there to add a little rhythmic tension, Young’s score has virtually no synth work: instead, he relies on good, old fashioned techniques, his knowledge and intelligent manipulation of the orchestra, and his obvious affinity for the genre to scare the pants off his audience.

Often, scores which come out at the beginning of the calendar are as poor as the movies they accompany; thrown out into release in that cinematic wasteland after the Oscar push, but before the summer blockbusters take the stage. Thankfully, The Uninvited is not like that at all. It’s a classy, well-written, well-performed, hugely enjoyable horror score which is terrifying and beautiful in equal measure, and is a great way to kick off 2009. It also underlines the reasons why Chris Young continues to be one of the most in-demand horror composers in the business.

Rating: ****

Buy the Uninvited soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • The Uninvited (3:28)
  • Twice Told Tales (2:22)
  • I’m at a Party (3:36)
  • Glass Act (1:35)
  • Bloody Milk (3:25)
  • Corpse Christmas (5:41)
  • Pairs in Love (1:50)
  • Terror on the Water (3:13)
  • Twin Nightmares (4:18)
  • Cry of Love (5:30)
  • Working Dreams (2:41)
  • The Screaming Bell (2:01)
  • What Have You Done? (2:42)
  • A Dance with No One (1:33)
  • Tale of Two Sisters (4:43)

Running Time: 48 minutes 38 seconds

Lakeshore Records LKS-34064 (2009)

Music composed by Christopher Young. Conducted by Pete Anthony. Orchestrations by Pete Anthony, Bruce Babcock and Sean McMahon. Additional music by David G. Russell. Recorded and mixed by Robert Fernandez. Edited by Thomas Milano. Album produced by Christopher Young.

  1. December 12, 2010 at 3:57 am

    That’s the score from Christopher Young. He make some collaboration with British director Jon Amiel. The cast were Emily Browning, Elizabeth Banks and David Strathairn.

  2. December 12, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Um… yes. It says all that in the review. I’m not sure what your point is.

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