Z for Zachariah

Musical Score By: Heather McIntosh

Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Based on a novel by Robert C. O'Brien, Z for Zachariah stars Margot Robbie as Ann Burden, a nuclear apocalypse survivor who believes she is alone on her family’s farmstead until she finds John Loomis (Chiwetel Ejiofor).  A gifted engineer, Loomis aids Ann on the farm, assisting her with finding fuel for her abandoned tractor and more.  As they become closer, they discover they are not alone – another survivor appears.  Caleb (Chris Pine) appears out of nowhere and his backstory and motives are questionable…at least to Loomis who feels immediately threatened by the newcomer.  Can the three manage to survive together or will the tension get the best of them?

                The musical score of Z for Zachariah was created by musician and composer Heather McIntosh.  Prior to getting into the film scoring scene, McIntosh decided to make a permanent mark on the music scene, touring with Lil Wayne, playing bass for Gnarls Barkley, creating music with indie bands such as Animal Collective, Norah Jones and St .Vincent and performing with artists like Bright Eyes and Cat Power.  Scoring credits include Compliance, The Rambler, Black Box, Honeymoon, Amira & Sam and more.

                The main character of this film, Ann, is a devout Christian whose faith is severely tested.  In creating a theme for Ann, McIntosh says, “We knew that we needed to get the tone of this right. It needed to feel like a timeless hymn and also be a defining theme for Ann. I started working on this after reading an early draft of the script, long before the film was shot.”  The musical score of Z for Zachariah is mainly chamber music with strings taking the lead, surrounded by horns and piano.  McIntosh explains how she wanted to combine the untouched beauty of the land that survived the apocalypse with the tension that develops once Ann realizes she isn’t alone: “This work has a very pastoral tone, even though we are depicting the end of the world, it takes place in the only part of the world unaffected by the apocalypse.  Along with lush chamber strings and horns, there is also a subtle underlying tension developed by the use of electronic and acoustic manipulated sounds.”  

                While I can admit to there being a complexity to the Z for Zachariah Soundtrack, I found myself bored for the most part.  There are twenty-six tracks on this album and they sound incredibly similar in nature.  There are subtle little changes here and there, but the main change takes place in the 20th track, While Loomis Sleeps, which contains heavy percussion as if something forbidden or evil is taking place.  Hymn Part 1 and Hymn Part 2 are different in that they are played on an organ, but the theme is pretty much the same.  I can honestly say that I couldn’t wait for this soundtrack to finish after an hour of bland chamber music.  Not a soundtrack I would recommend to anyone other than an insomniac trying to get some sleep.


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