The Strangers: Prey at Night

Musical Score By: Adrian Joshnston

Songs By: Various Artists

Soundtrack Distributed by: Varѐse Sarabande Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


               In the horror film, The Strangers: Prey at Night, a family (Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison and Lewis Pullman) head off to their aunt and uncle’s trailer park for their last family trip before their daughter heads off to boarding school.  What they find is a mysteriously deserted mobile home park, deserted that is, except for three masked psychopaths (Damian Maffei, Emma Bellomy and Lea Enslin) out for some blood.

               The Strangers: Prey at Night Soundtrack features songs by artists like Kim Wilde, Mental as Anything, Bonnie Tyler and Air Supply, and a musical score by British composer and musician Adrian Johnston.  A drummer who has performed in the bands Moles for Breakfast, The Waterboys, Combo Zombo and The Mike Flowers Pops, Johnston’s first foray into composing film score was the 1996 film Jude.  Since then, he has created musical score for such notable projects as Becoming Jane, Brideshead Revisited, Capturing Mary, Shakleton, Paradox, The Sinking of the Laconia, Dancing on the Edge, The Tunnel and Kinky Boots.

               The music found on the soundtrack of The Strangers Prey at Night has a 70s/80s horror feel to it.  According to the composer, “I had an idea that once we reach Gatlin Lake, just as the strangers are tuning into radio pop from yesteryear, so too should the scoring sensibilities get occasionally dialed across the decades.  I also wanted to treat it as much as possible as a live event, but also incorporating certain ‘musique concrete’ techniques, reverse tape, loops, cut ups etc… The recording sessions took place at night in an incredibly atmospheric (deconsecrated) chapel, centuries old.  I projected the film onto a 30-foot high paper screen and improvised to picture, mixing acoustic instruments, vintage synths and organs. There were no nearby neighbors to disturb so I was able to get the entire building thrumming with the cacophony.” 

The synth score is rather creepy and reminiscent of the John Carpenter horror scores of old.  In fact, for a second, I forgot I wasn’t listening to a John Carpenter soundtrack.  The keyboard theme will definitely raise the hackles and have you looking over your shoulder.  The addition of songs like Kids in America, Live It Up, Cambodia, Total Eclipse of the Heart and Making Love Out of Nothing At All is actually rather comical if you think about it.  Depending on how they were used, they could be pointing toward the timeline of the movie or they could be used as an ironic twist on an otherwise gruesome moment.

The manipulation of sound, low registry rumbling and rising and falling crescendos combined with bursts of percussion and blasts of fast-paced music combine to make score of The Strangers: Prey at Night incredibly spooky.  The 80s tracks provide some relief for the intense, nail-biting stress of the rest of the scary score.  Adrian Johnston composed an amazingly edgy and fear-inducing score and the album as a whole is terrific!


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