Fresh from their Academy Award-nominated collaboration on the score for The Hurt Locker, film composers Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders turn to the horror genre with director Troy Nixey's feature film remake of the 1973 TV movie Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. Beltrami, the senior partner in the duo, knows his way around scary pictures, having scored Scream. He and Sanders seem to have had two goals in their music here, first to contrast the innocent, childlike aspect of the story, which is seen through the eyes of a young girl, with the bad stuff that happens, and second to pay homage to the horror and suspense movie scores of their youth. The latter goal leads them to use an orchestra and, as Sanders points out, period effects such Echoplex tape delay and the swirling sound of a Leslie speaker. The children's music comes right up front with "Gramophone Lullaby" and the main title theme, which leads into a romantic style very reminiscent of Herrmann. In the lengthy "Gardner Gets Snipped," the composers even briefly use the stabbing string effect from Psycho that was Herrmann's signature. As the score goes on, such winks at the listener get less noticeable, if only because Beltrami and Sanders have to get on with the business of accompanying all the scary material, culminating in the aptly named "Goblin Trouble." Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, circa 2011, thus, is a deliberately old-fashioned horror movie score by some avid students of the style.
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