Dead Souls

Composed by: Matthew Llewellyn and Jonathan Bartz

Distributed by: Screamworks Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Based on a novel by Michael Laimo, Dead Souls stars Jesse James stars as Johnny Petrie, a young man who learns on his eighteenth birthday that he has earned an inheritance.  It isn't until this milestone birthday that Johnny's original parentage is revealed.  Apparently, the farm that Johnny has inherited in Maine is the very same one in which his original family met their demise.  Upon returning to this home, Johnny learns the mysterious events that made him an orphan.  Unfortunately, the forces that brought about his family's horrific death are still around and about the family farm.  Can Johnny figure out how to stop them or will he succumb to the fate he escaped nearly eighteen years ago?

                The musical score of Dead Souls was composed by the team of Matthew Llewellyn and Jonathan Bartz.  Matthew Llewellyn grew up with music, performing classical piano and guitar in his younger years and following up his musical interests by attending the Berklee College of Music where he pursued a dual major in Film Scoring and Music Business/Management.  While in Berklee, Llewellyn began scoring for short films.  After Berklee, Llewellyn was accepted into the University of Southern California’s graduate program in Scoring for Motion Picture and Television.  Concert and film composer Jonathan Bartz graduated St. Olaf College with a Bachelor of Music degree in Theory/Composition before being accepted into the European American Music Alliance, studying under some of the most prestigious composers of the time.  Bartz followed this up by completing the University of Southern California’s graduate program in Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television.  Together, the two composers composed musical scores for a number of Brian Tyler films including The Expendables 2 and Final Destination 5.

                For the musical score of Dead Souls, Llewellyn and Bartz went old school.  Rather than following in the path of recent horror soundtracks by using a lot of ambient or electronic sounds and reverb, these composers decided to use a more traditional approach.  There was a time when composers used real orchestral instruments in various manners to induce fright in their audiences.  This is the approach Llewellyn and Bartz employ.  The Slovak National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Allan Wilson, perform a masterful score featuring high-pitched, fast-paced violins, ominous sounding horns and crashing piano chords.  And it all starts with The Spider and the Fly, a rather spooky rendition of the poem in which a spider pretends friendship with a fly, but is really inviting the fly into a trap from which it can never escape.

                The Dead Souls Soundtrack excited me.  I understand the new style of composing horror and eliciting frightened reactions through electronic sound that seems to jump out at you, but the fact remains that I will always be a fan of the earlier horror music which solely employed musical instruments to achieve the same desired effect.  I loved the way the composers threw nods toward classic film composers - if you listen carefully, you just might hear some familiar notes from the Psycho shower scene and some of the Star Wars Attack of the Sand People score (minus the percussion) in the mix. 

                This whole album was a great deal of fun to listen to and I have no doubt that it greatly enhanced the fear factor of the visuals in the film.  If you enjoy classic horror film scores, then you will really enjoy the Dead Souls Soundtrack - take it from me, an avid classic horror film score fan!


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