The Awakening

Composed by: Daniel Pemberton

Distributed by: Screamworks Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Set in England in 1921, The Awakening stars Rebecca Hall as Florence Cathcart, a ghost debunker of sorts who is asked to investigate rumors of a haunting at a countryside boarding school.  Just when she believes she has unraveled the hoax behind the supposed haunting, Florence has an encounter of the supernatural kind causing her to question everything she once knew as a certainty.

            The musical score of The Awakening was created by British composer Daniel Pemberton.  An Ivor Novello Award winner and BAFTA nominee, Daniel Pemberton is most recognized for the scores he has created for television for such Peep Show, Hells Kitchen and Desperate Romantics.  He has also composed scores for documentaries such as Hiroshima and George Orwell - A Life in Pictures and for the big budget family adventure, Prehistoric Park Broadcast Magazine has declared Pemberton “one of the hottest people working in television today,” praising him as “a composer prepared to take risks.” 

            Knowing that The Awakening was, for all intents and purposes, a supernatural thriller…in other words, a ghost story…I expected a horror approach to the musical score.  I have grown bored with most of the work in the horror genre as they all appear to have the same style and scare tactics.  However, thanks to Daniel Pemberton’s uncharacteristic approach, The Awakening sparked my interest.  The musical score features a gothic orchestra, heavy on strings and piano. 

            The music is hauntingly beautiful in the opening track, Seeing Through Ghosts.  But the following track is anything but beautiful.  The Séance features vocals that are barely on the periphery of one’s hearing at first, then building to a crescendo that is quite spooky as accompanied by the heart-pumping background music.  I refer to the music as background because the voices actually spooked me out more than the music and are the focal point of this piece.  High Over Cumbria is a dark, fast-paced piece again featuring vocals that gives one the impression of soaring over the movie’s locale.  What sounds like a harpsichord, but could easily be an out of tune piano, sends chills down your spine in Empty Classrooms.  And there is no way you would ever catch me near the The East Bedroom thanks to the implications of the downright spooky music found in the track by that name.

            The entire soundtrack of The Awakening is a sensory explosion.  One can actually sense the terror of the characters, envision the scenes for which the music was written for and hear the uneasiness felt by Florence as she uncovers the true mystery lying hidden in the boarding school.  I was so intrigued by Daniel Pemberton’s soundtrack that I not only listened to it numerous times, I decided that I had to see the movie’s trailer.  I believe Pemberton has written the perfect musical score for this film and can’t wait to get my hands on the movie itself.

            The Awakening Soundtrack is more than just another soundtrack for another horror movie.  This is a re-invention of horror film music that is worthy enough to be sold as a stand alone album.  Fans of horror music, or any film music for that matter, would do well to check out The Awakening Soundtrack.  It’s well-worth the listen!


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