Musical Score By: Ronen Landa
Distributed by: Ronen Landa
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Filmed in a real abandoned asylum, the thriller, Eloise, centers around four friends who break into an abandoned asylum in search of a death certificate that will grant one of them a large inheritance. They never could have imagined that they would find something even more important, for the asylum houses more than just a horrifying history…it contains the truth about the friends’ own tragic pasts.
The musical score of Eloise was created by American composer Ronen Landa, who didn’t really show signs of wanting a career in composing early on. Receiving a few years of lessons in piano as a child, most of Landa’s musical training came from teaching himself how to play rock and jazz songs on his guitar. He performed with local bands in his hometown outside of Washington, D.C. until he moved to New York City at age seventeen. It was here that he was reintroduced to classical music and began composing for chamber ensembles and orchestras. He still continues to perform and plays a number of instruments, including the guitar, mandolin, oud and other stringed instruments. Some of his composing credits include the musical scores of The Pact, At the Devil’s Door, Mad As Hell, Burning in the Sun, The Dreams of Sparrows, City of Borders and Paraiso.
The name of the film had me thrown off when I first listened to the Eloise Soundtrack. I hadn’t read the promotional material before listening and had a predisposed notion of what the film might be about. Of course, that predisposed notion was a tad incorrect. I felt that Eloise was an older name, so I might be listening to some sort of period piece. While Eloise is not exactly a modern name…I could never have imagined it being used as the name of an abandoned asylum. I got the old part right, but everything else was totally off, making the music I would hear totally unexpected.
According to Ronen Landa, “The cinematic style conjured the filmmaking of classic noir thrillers, so my approach was to intertwine the jazz-inflected orchestrations of that era with more contemporary elements. I worked closely with Eloise director Rob Legato to create a multi-layered musical landscape that reflected the modern horrors of this actual abandoned asylum in Michigan and also the hallucinatory time-shifting that the characters experience once inside.” I have no idea where the jazz comes in, but I can say that the Eloise Soundtrack was composed in a manner that will send chills up and down your spine. Though there is an ounce of classical in Aunt Genevieve, most of the score is more modern with piano, strings and heavy percussion. Horror cues come in the form of screechy violins. The Overture and Call Me Crazy contain a heartbeat sound seriously adds spook-factor to the music. Heavy percussion gives the listener the idea of danger and fear, possibly trying to escape something supernatural. The Last Word has an ominous beginning, but ends on a tad calmer note with lighter piano keystrokes. That being said, the last tracks, Buried Again and Theme from Eloise are anything but light and airy or soothing.
Ronen Landa knows just how to create a horror/thriller soundtrack, combining classic horror cues with orchestral sound. This is not your modern-day horror soundtrack, relying on electronic noise and sound effects, but rather relying on normal instruments to have a dramatic effect on the listener, enough to scare them senseless and keep them on the edge of their seat. Well done, Mr. Landa, well done!