Evil Dead’s Musical Comeback

“Everything started when I contacted writer-director Fede Alvarez through Facebook to introduce myself and my music.” –Roque Baños

There is a new Evil Dead film out, and with it, a new score. The composer is Roque Baños, who is most definitely not new to the game — with credits you may recognize such as The Machinist and Sexy Beast. He’s an artist gifted with the ability to experiment without being intrusive. Evil Dead is an oft-kilter piece with horror’s traditional palette of violence and shock — as so promised by its ad campaign — but what Baños accomplishes with his score is nothing short of stunning. There’s a delicacy to the detail, even at its most blown-out.

Evil Dead is not just a horror movie with blood everywhere. It’s also a love story. This…allowed me to create a wide range of styles to emphasize the different emotions within the story. That lets us hear a nice theme from the strings, which points out the fraternal love between a brother, his sister and their friends. We can hear a nice piano theme, with a dose of eeriness, that brings out a sense of magic from the whole story. Then there are rips, scratches, cacophonies, shouts and other effects coming from the orchestra.” – Baños

There’s violence, of course — this is a film about violence, and the score follows suit with cacophonies and dissonant arrangements as Baños addresses. It’s the softness that’s surprising; it balances and provides a strength of character and complexity of emotion. These moments imbue a standard horror score with an undercurrent of humanity, compassion, and subtlety.

Even when a horror film doesn’t work, the score can accomplish something wondrous: the storytelling in Michael Giacchino’s work for Let Me In (a remake) and Marco Beltrami’s for the Thing (also a remake) and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark far surpass the successes of the films.

Something particularly valuable in genre is the potential for innovation within formulaic constraints. Baños’ flair is stunning at its peaks: a mixture of recognizable arrangement with disorienting approximation of chain saw and warning alarm achieved via careful mixing of instruments estranged from their common expression.

“We wanted to have a ‘classical’ type of score…we didn’t want to use any electronic music, which is so often the case these days. We based the sound of the music on a symphonic orchestra, then added other elements like a choir to give a Gothic, demonic sound to the score. We used wood crashes to represent the forest’s attack, and an acoustic siren, that certainly put us on alert that something scary was going to happen.” – Baños

It’s most unsettling because of its artifice. The sounds the music references are easily recognizable, but because they have been arranged and constructed, the sound is deeply unsettling without relying on clichés.

No matter Dead’s success, it was worth it for the music.

The album is available now via La-La Land Records. Order here.

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