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THE FOURTH KIND – Atli Örvarsson

November 6, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A terrifying supernatural horror film supposedly based on true events, The Fourth Kind stars Milla Jovovich, Will Patton and Elias Koteas, and is set in the isolated fishing community of Nome, Alaska, where over the course of the last 40 years there have been multiple reported cases of alleged possession, alien abduction, supposed murders, and government conspiracies to keep the story quiet. While the ‘factual basis’ of director Olatunde Osunsanmi’s film remains questionable, the film has frightened a good number of cinematic audiences across the world; contributing enormously to this is Icelandic composer Atli Örvarsson’s original score.

Written for a small orchestra judiciously augmented by various electronics, percussion items and unsettling vocal effects, The Fourth Kind is an effectively unnerving score that is often as cold as the Alaskan tundra in which the film is set. The opening of “Flight to Nome” is a chilly, haunting piece for strings, electronics and ghostly vocals that sets the tone for the horrors to come; the, insistent urgent string rhythms in the cue’s second half continue through “Owolowa”, adding a level of palpable apprehension, and the darkly dramatic brass theme which appears at the end of that cue is an album highlight.

Explosions of frighteningly vicious dissonance occur in “Hypnosis” and “They’re Not From Here”, cues which are not easy to listen to or enjoy, but which provide the score with the palpable sense of terror the film requires. These are tempered by more lyrical moments of piano-led thematic writing, such as that found in “Ashley”, or recapitulations of the evocative choral work, in cues such as “Completely Surreal” the excellent “Torn Apart” (which becomes a strident action cue during its later stages), or the conclusive pair “Northern Lights” and “Conclusion”, which somehow manage to successfully achieve the right balance between relief and anxiety.

Nothing about The Fourth Kind is groundbreaking, or even especially original, but it’s a solid, enjoyable horror score, and it is to Örvarsson’s credit that his music remains emotionally effective and texturally interesting throughout, especially when you consider the general dearth of good, modernistic horror writing that exists in Hollywood today.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Flight to Nome (3:09)
  • Owolowa (3:58)
  • Hypnosis (2:45)
  • The Owl (2:53)
  • Ashley (1:40)
  • Completely Surreal (3:58)
  • They’re Not from Here (2:46)
  • The Fourth Kind (2:45)
  • Torn Apart (4:31)
  • Abduction (4:27)
  • Northern Lights (4:06)
  • Conclusion (2:41)

Running Time: 39 minutes 39 seconds

Varèse Sarabande VSD-6995 (2009)

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