The Bay

Composed By: Marcelo Zarvos

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            A movie in the style of horror films like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, The Bay is an eco-horror film stars Kether Donohue as Donna Thompson, a young reporter who was supposed to be covering a Fourth of July parade in a town off the shore of the Chesapeake Bay.  What she saw that day and the following days inspired her to gather footage...any surviving footage not taken and hidden by the government in an effort to hide facts about the parasitic outbreak that wiped out the town.

            The musical score of The Bay was created by Brazilian pianist and composer Marcelo Zarvos, who began his foray into music as a teenager studying classical music in São Paolo with West German composer H.J. Koelreutter.  He followed up his studies as an undergrad in Berklee College of Music and the California Institute of the Arts, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts before completing his Master's in Music at Hunter College.  Entering into the independent film scene in the early 2000s with his scores for Kissing Jessica Stein and The Door in the Floor, Zarvos was named one of the 25 New Faces of Indie Film in 2004 by FilmMaker Magazine.  Since then, he has composed soundtracks for a number of feature films, including The Good Shepherd, Brooklyn's Finest, Sin Nombre, The Words and Won't Back Down.

            The music of The Bay is designed to be scary and let me tell you, Zarvos does his job extremely well here, despite the fact that this is the first musical score he has written for a horror film: "The Bay was both the first horror and completely electronic score I've done. Even though electronic sounds have been a part of my palate for a long time, doing a score top to bottom this way was fascinating and challenging. Finding the right tone was crucial, we needed to create and sustain tension without pulling the viewer from the ‘real life’ aspect of the story and its characters.”  Just reading this quote from Zarvos made my jaw drop.  Not only was I surprised that the talented composer had never tried his hand at a horror film score, but I was totally convinced that the compositions I was listening to were mixes of orchestral and electronic sound.  When I told my friend that the music was completely electronic, she, too, looked shocked, believing the music to have been partially orchestral.

            As for creating and sustaining tension, well, Zarvos may have discovered a true talent for keeping the listener on edge.  The music is dark and creepy with electronic sounds that send chills up your spine.  As you scroll through the titles of each track, you begin to sense that this may have something to do with the water.  Even some of the music's slow, quiet moments seem to suggest underwater travel.  But instinctively, you know it has nothing to do with a shark attack or a giant squid.  There is a distinct impression here that something is terribly wrong with the water. 

            Is the score of The Bay well-suited for the movie it was composed for?  Well, it was more than enough to creep me out when I first listened to it and to completely spook my friend and my cat upon my second listen.  I'd say it was well-suited for a horror film.  Now, would you want to buy this musical score as a stand alone album?  Only if you want to thoroughly scare the hell out of someone.  The electronic music is seamless enough as to appear to have been created with the use of a partial or full orchestra with electronic sound and I would absolutely love to know how the composer achieved this, tricking me, a long-time soundtrack reviewer.  I'll definitely be keeping an eye on Marcelo Zarvos' career.  FilmMaker Magazine's assessment of Zarvos is definitely spot on in my book!


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