The Woman in Black

Composed By: Marco Beltrami

Distributed by: Silva Screen Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            The Woman in Black is a new horror film produced by Hammer Film Productions based on the 1983 novel by Susan Hill that was also adapted for the stage and has seen a rather long run in the UK (over two decades and counting).  The movie, set in the early 1900s, stars Daniel Radcliffe as Arthur Kipps, a lawyer and single father whose wife (Sophie Stuckie) died in childbirth.  Since her death, Arthur hasnít been the same and his grief is threatening to destroy his career.  He finds himself, accompanied by his son, in a remote village, assigned by his firm to handle the estate of a deceased eccentric woman.  Arthur is immediately aware that the local townsfolk are trying to hide something from him, but is uncertain as to what that is until he realizes that the home of his client is actually haunted by the ghost of a woman determined to recover someone and something she lost.  Nothing is safe from her vengeance, not even children.

            The musical score of The Woman in Black was created by American composer Marco Beltrami, who began his foray into music by taking piano lessons at the age of six.  More interested in re-writing his practice pieces than actually practicing, Beltrami showed an aptitude for composing early on.  He would go on to complete an undergraduate study at Brown University and entered the Yale School of Music.  Beltramiís love of musical composition took him to Venice, Italy, where he studied under Luigi Nono.  He then traveled to Los Angeles to undertake a fellowship with award-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith.  His first solo musical scoring endeavor was Scream and his career took off from there.  Since then, he has created musical scores for all four Scream films, Mimic, Donít Be Afraid of the Dark, 3:10 to Yuma, The Hurt Locker, Resident Evil, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and more.

            The Woman in Black harks back to the days of classic horror films.  As such, the film deserved a classic horror film score and Marco Beltrami delivers, utilizing a full orchestra playing in the darker registries and high pitched noises that remind one of nails on a blackboard, strategically placed to make the hairs on the back of the listenerís neck rise.  The music is dark in mood, thanks to the low registries being played, and sad, offering the listener a glimpse into Arthurís circumstances.  Although the dark music lets the viewer know that something is not quite right and some sort of fright should be expected, the listener is usually caught off guard when Beltrami springs that fright on you with a loud burst of music, background whispers or creepy sounds that send chills up your spine.

            The music of a horror film should be the kind that you wouldnít want to listen to in a dark room or on a gloomy, stormy night.  Marco Beltramiís score for The Woman in Black is just that sort of soundtrack.  Iím a hard person to spook out and I must confess that I jumped quite a few times while listening to The Woman in Black Soundtrack.  There arenít many horror soundtracks that I would recommend for anything other than playing on a spooky, Halloween night, but there is a beauty about The Woman in Black Soundtrack that makes it more than just a horror film score.  Thereís a sadness there and a sense of naivetť mixed in with the scares and those parts of the score are quite beautiful to behold.  I had been interested in seeing this film after viewing the trailer on television, but, since listening to the musical score, I am more convinced than ever that I have to go see The Woman in Black!


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