Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Composed By: Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Based on the 1973 made-for-TV movie, Donít Be Afraid of the Dark stars Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes as architect Alex Hurst and his new girlfriend Kim.  The two are working on restoring the Gothic Blackwood Manor to its original beauty.  Alexís daughter, Sally (Bailee Madison) is along for the ride.  Neglected by her mother and pushed aside by her fatherís work, Sally begins to explore the manor and unwittingly unleashes horrific entities that threaten the lives of all of the manorís inhabitants.

            The musical score of Donít Be Afraid of the Dark was created by Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders.  Beltramiís interest in musical composition began at the age of six when he re-wrote piano pieces he was supposed to be practicing.  From there he decided to expand his musical knowledge, attending the Yale School of Music, traveling to Venice to study music composition under Luigi Nono and taking a fellowship with Award-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith.  Since then, Marco Beltrami has worked on a number of film scores, including those for Scream, Resident Evil, 3:10 to Yuma, and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

            Buck Sanders was always interested in music, playing guitar in local rock bands until a stint at a local video store turned him on to musical scoring.  Upon becoming Marco Beltramiís assistant in 1997, Sanders began producing an co-composing a number of works with Beltrami, including the musical scores of Max Payne and The Hurt Locker.

            For the score of Donít Be Afraid of the Dark, Beltrami and Sanders had a great deal of input from the Producer Guillermo del Toro and Director Troy Nixey.  Having great respect for the original film, the producer and director had a specific sound in mind.  According to Marco Beltrami, ďThe score began with Guillermo del Toro's request for a lullaby for Sally.  He and Troy Nixey also asked that we take inspiration from not only the original film's score by Billy Goldenberg but also the classic 60's and 70's horror scores of Jerry Goldsmith, Krzysztof Komeda and Bernard Herrmann.Ē  The composers found these requests to be ďrefreshing challenges compared to today's current horror sound

            The result is a soundtrack that takes things back a bit. Unlike the horror soundtracks of today, the musical score of Donít Be Afraid of the Dark relies less on electronic effects and more on manipulation of woodwinds, harps and viborphones to create the desired horror infusion.  The lullaby del Toro requested appears first in Lamb Lamp Lambency and features an innocent sounding childís song played on a vibrophone that becomes ominously distorted in the end.  This lulling into a sense of security and then offering up some signs of horror is used throughout the soundtrack.

            Although somewhat melancholy, the score of Donít Be Afraid of the Dark contains moments of beauty as in the tracks Gramophone Lullaby, Donít Be Afraid of the Dark Main Titles and Garden Music.  I found myself smiling at the moments that made me jump in my seat - those moments of security interrupted by hits of horror.  One such track, Gardener Gets Snipped features a homage to the Psycho shower scene.  Another track, Bed Bugs, spooked me so bad, I had to laugh at myself.  Things were rather ominous, but quiet, when out of the blue, WHAM - a loud attack of music signifying a horrific moment in the movie made me jump.

            The Donít Be Afraid of the Dark Soundtrack does exactly what any musical score should do - it sets up the scary moments of the film and enhances them.  The music is actually quite beautiful at times making this a nice stand alone album.  Whatís more important is that this is somewhat of a throwback score in that it pays homage to older horror film scores by not trying to over-synthesize the sound or add tons of electronic noises to elicit the feelings of spookiness and horror.  The score may be a bit old-fashioned in that aspect, but I found it refreshing in a day when many of the horror film soundtracks out there seem to sound so similar to one another.  The Donít Be Afraid of the Dark Soundtrack is a refreshing change of pace from the norm and represents a job well done by  Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders.


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