Original Music by Brian McOmber
With the release of last year’s Krisha, Trey Edwards Shults established himself as an intriguing new purveyor of cinematic anxiety. Much of the film’s unerring tension was derived from Composer Brian McOmber’s relentlessly nervy soundtrack. The combination of Shults’ style and McOmber’s music make watching Krisha a viscerally unnerving experience.
Fans of their work on that film will be happy to know that the director and composer have re-teamed for Shults’ follow up, It Comes At Night. And from the sounds of it, they’ve delivered another nerve-wracking cinematic experience that our own Chris Evangelista calls “horror in its purest form.”
The film stars Joel Edgerton as a man whose family has led a tenuous existence in a remote cabin as a supernatural danger wreaks havoc on the world. Their careful existence is upended when a young family shows up seeking sanctuary. What follows is a macabre chamber piece fueled by fear, paranoia and the inherent darkness that lurks within us all. And McOmber’s propulsively menacing music lurks behind every frightful moment.
That music is a compelling blend of classic genre styling and melodic experimentation that transcends its horror movie origins. The 20 tracks that comprise McOmber’s score more often inspire a feeling of operatic disquiet. The composer sets the tone for that disquiet in the album’s opening track ‘It Comes At Night’ – a hushed orchestral prelude for the melancholic menace that follows.
At 49 seconds, ‘Flames’ is a brief but brutal followup that proves a worthy vessel for that menace as McOmber builds an ominous wave of synthesizers from and back into an echoey silence. He follows ‘Flames’ with more brooding synths in ‘Close Your Eyes’ before walking us blindly into the pitch black percussion and wailing strings of ‘Sores’. After such sinister beginnings, the primal, propulsive energy of ‘The Road’ comes as a bit of a shock. But McOmber counters the track’s percussive drive with a roiling foam of ambient angst that underscores the song’s panicked intensity.
Two tracks later, McOmber takes a moment to breathe with the melodic, mournful ‘The Triumph of Death’. Unfolding over five-and-a-half masterfully controlled minutes, ‘The Triumph of Death’ opens with a wistful violin soaring through swirling synthetic discord. That discord builds for nearly three minutes before McOmber lets it boil over. But the moment is brief, and the composer quickly leads the song into an echoing silence before unleashing nearly two minutes of bristling sonic static.
From there, McOmber mercilessly explores the ever darkening corners exposed throughout It Comes At Night with increasing levels of dread. From maddening ambient explorations like ‘Stanley’ to thumping, electronic experiments like ‘Planning and Preparation’, McOmber pushes the boundaries of genre music in ways that few composers have. And in the process he builds a endlessly unnerving, singularly lovely soundtrack for the end of the world … or something even worse.
Trey Edwards Shults’ It Comes At Night is in now in theaters everywhere and promises to be one of summer’s creepiest films. Do not miss it. And once you’ve experienced Shults’ menacing masterpiece, be sure to check out Brian McOmber’s foreboding original score. That hits streaming platforms and gets a physical release (CD only) today via the fine folks over at Milan Records. FYI – if you can hold out a little longer, there’s a vinyl release coming later this summer and it should be well worth the wait.