Screenwriter/director Bryan Bertino's intention with his suspense thriller The Strangers seems to be to scare the bejesus out of his audience, and in this he is aided and abetted by Tomandandy, aka the co-composing team of Andy Milburn and Thomas Hajdu, whose previous efforts include The Hills Have Eyes. For The Strangers, they have employed the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra (symphony orchestras being less expensive in the nonunionized former Iron Curtain countries), but not used the musicians in the usual ways for the most part. Strings play sustained notes at the high ends of their ranges to make for an eerie mood and are mixed with electronic sounds, the whole given added resonance by the use of echo and reverb. While things start out quietly, by the middle of the eighth track, "Alone," the first of a series of unanticipated crashes occurs, no doubt signaling some awful event onscreen. It is only during the 13th cue, "Mike," that one begins to hear anything resembling conventional orchestral scoring, and even then it plays beneath the high-pitched whine of the more common sounds. The orchestra gets to play more often toward the end, but this is background music that, for the most part, is intended to interact with, or even take the place of, the movie's sound effects. The sudden horrible sound that marks the end of the final track, "Over," suggests that the director keeps the audience jumping right to the last moment.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|The Strangers, film score|