Musical Score By: Giona Ostinelli
Distributed by: Lakeshore Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In Darling, Lauren Ashley Carter is Darling, a lonely girl who is hired on as a caretaker in a mysterious Manhattan mansion. It isn’t long before she discovers the mansion’s reputation as being haunted by troubled souls. The longer Darling stays, the more twisted her experiences become as she descends into madness…but is it the mansion driving her crazy or is it something else?
The musical score of Darling was created by Swiss-Italian composer Giona Ostinelli who began his foray into music learning to play the drums at the age of five. By nine years old, he was playing the piano. After earning degrees in film scoring from the Berklee College of Music and the University of Southern California, he worked under renowned film composer Alan Silvestri. Solo projects include the musical scores of The Boat Builder, Carter High, Carnage Park, POD, The Remains, Little Miss Perfect, Ghost Squad, Indigenous, Opening Night, Magpie, Realm of Souls, Perdition and The Mist. He has also supplied additional music for television series, including Homeland, Community, Happy Endings, Elementary and 24: Live Another Day.
According to the composer, “There’s barely any dialogue throughout the whole film, so the music had to play a major role by being another character in the film that is always present. It is a rare opportunity in today’s film industry, as well as a major challenge. The score has to be incredibly focused on guiding the audience through the film with confidence.” As I listened to the score of Darling, I found myself shaking my head as I was once again hearing a horror soundtrack with little music and a great deal of sound effects. That being said, I found this score to be a tad different. The sound effects are not achieved solely through the use of electronics – I heard pianos and horns in addition to screeching violins and reverb. Ostinelli explains, “Darling presented a wonderful opportunity to experiment creating a score as a combination of classical, noir and sound design elements. I was able to achieve a particular sound by creating a unique hallucinatory soundscape, which features a heaving distorted Ondes Martenot combined with various layers of piano going through a very specific type of reverb. On top of these hypnotic intricate sonorities, I occasionally introduced a distant solo trumpet, which added a disturbing noir element that worked perfectly with the black-and-white images.”
And I have to say, there are definitely some tracks in this album that stood out. Like Dragging the Body in which you hear a child’s song playing in the background of some extremely ominous noise and the distinct sound of dripping water. Inferno starts off with a spooky heartbeat and then moves into electronica that you could imagine listening to at a club. Scriabin Preludes constitutes the largest bit of music you will hear on the album, featuring a whole track of classical piano which is quite beautiful and dramatic in great contrast to the spooky and ominous nature of the rest of the score.
All-in-all, though I generally get annoyed at horror soundtracks which feature more sound effects than actual music, I can honestly admit that the Darling Soundtrack is a rather striking album that does put that scare factor to work, with blasts of sound that actually made me jump once or twice, echoing and distorted sounds that give one the instant impression of a soul descending into madness and a creepy, raise the hair on the back of your neck feeling. Ostinelli’s composition for Darling is downright creepy and apparently spot-on with the film it was created for.