Home > Reviews > THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL/I CAN SEE YOU – Jeff Grace


October 30, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Review by Jonathan Broxton

A chilling horror movie from writer/director Ti West, The House of the Devil stars Jocelin Donahue as Samantha, a teenage college student who takes on babysitting jobs to earn a bit of extra cash. When she is hired by the Ulman family (Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov) on the night of a lunar eclipse, Samantha’s part time job quickly becomes a living nightmare after she learns that she is to be the victim of a satanic ritual. The music for The House of the Devil is by up-and-coming composer Jeff Grace, who scored West’s previous films Trigger Man and The Roost, both of which were also released on the MovieScore Media label.

Much like the film itself, Grace’s score is a nostalgic throwback to the early-80s heyday of the ‘teenager in peril’ horror genre, albeit with a very classy, classical feel. Written for a chamber-sized orchestra with emphasis on icy-pretty strings and piano, Grace’s score revels in a sense of morbid, gothic beauty, unsettling the listener with quiet, intimate orchestral lines that elicit a sense of disquieting tension through subtle shifts in key, instrumental phrasing, or the inclusion of atonal chords under the melody.

Cues such as “Family Photos” and “Meeting Mr. Ulman” expertly raise the anxiety levels to almost unbearable heights, despite being occasionally rather attractive. There is some gloriously dark and sinister dissonant writing in “Mother”, “Chalice” and “Lights Out”, a cacophony of screeching strings, snarling brasses and tumultuous percussion writing – perfect for Satanism! – before returning to the attractively sinister thematic writing in the conclusive “The House of the Devil”.

This double-header album also features 12 cues from Grace’s score for director Graham Reznick’s 2008 horror/mystery I Can See You, about three young advertizing execs who venture into the woods for a photo shoot, and never come out. It’s a very different kind of score, heavy on electronics and percussion writing (“Today in New York City”, “Doug Escapes”), heavy on distorted pianos, violins, and other general dissonance (“Pitch Meeting”, “Looking for Doug and Summer”, “The Cliff”), and more interested in ambient synth tones than memorable melody (“Summer Day”), but it certainly highlights Grace’s versatility. When taken together, both these scores clearly indicate that Jeff Grace is a composer of considerable talent, especially in the horror genre, and who has a bright future ahead of him.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Opening (1:10)
  • Family Photos (2:24)
  • The View Upstairs (1:45)
  • Original Inhabitants (3:05)
  • Meeting Mr. Ulman (1:12)
  • Keep the Change (1:12)
  • Footsteps (1:27)
  • Mother (3:07)
  • Chalice (0:51)
  • On the Run (3:45)
  • Lights Out (3:04)
  • He’s Calling You (1:50)
  • The House of the Devil (5:49)
  • Mrs. Ulman (2:04) 
  • Today in New York City (2:24)
  • Pitch Meeting (2:53)
  • Summer Day (6:22)
  • Looking for Doug and Summer (1:35)
  • Doug Returns (1:26)
  • Doug Escapes (1:28)
  • Where Are You Now? (2:59)
  • The Cliff (4:05)
  • Evening Fog (1:59)
  • I Can See You (0:57)
  • Swimming Hole (4:24)
  • Passing Trees (1:11)

Running Time: 64 minutes 28 seconds

MovieScore Media MMS-09026 (2009)

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