Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Fourth Kind by Atli Örvarsson (Review)

Atli Örvarsson’s latest effort is a unique and fresh scoring style to the horror genre. Lately the “horror” genre has mainly been monopolized by either Steve Jablonsky (all the Michael Bay produced remakes) or Charlie Clouser (Saw franchise). While The Fourth Kind can be considered a “B” movie it is nonetheless a very hard concept to score. The score itself acts more like an atmospheric ambience using simple melodic progressions. Atli also incorporates haunting female vocals and some bizarre insect-like percussion.

The female vocals are my favorite part of the score as they are part of the main theme. They remind me very much of the solo vocal that was in his score for Babylon A.D. which was Agora’s Theme. The hallow vocals give the score the sense of the unknown, which is most appropriate. The insect-like synthesized percussion I mentioned earlier weaves in and out and adds a very unique element.

Towards the middle of the score we lose all the familiar rhythms and melodic structure and stray into atmospheric ambience. If anyone is a fan of Akira Yamaoka’s scores for the Silent Hill game franchise then you may know what I mean when I say atmospheric ambience. The track “They’re Not From Here” really stands out in that sense.

While the film itself may have been a poor execution on an interesting subject the score nonetheless rises above and stands on its own. It has Örvarssons style all over it and so many hauntingly beautiful elements that I must recommend it even to the casual listener. Just a note, the film ends with a series of descriptive texts. My rule is that if the film ends in texts summing up events and the composer can make the texts dramatic then you know the score is doing its job.

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