If this year’s horror movies are any proof, what you hear can be just as or even more terrifying than what you see. That’s thanks, in part, to a film’s composer, who has an explicit ability to take both the social, physical, metaphorical and even unnatural and uncanny elements of a story and turn them into tangible, audible emotion.
In the specific case of horror movies, that most essential emotion composers are entrusted to both illustrate and produce is fear — an umbrella feeling that can encompass everything from dread and anxiety to painful distress and restlessness.
But with the wide range of horror films out there, how one composer imbues that terror and creates an aural soundscape for a story’s horrors that will equally get into the heads (and under the skin) of their viewers, can be quite different than the next.
Ultimately, a movie’s mix of genres, where it’s set, its characters, whose perspective it centers and more can influence a film’s music just as much as its composer’s own musical background, training and style.
Amid the release of a slew of horror films this year, eight composers behind 2022 films Barbarian, Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, Fresh, Goodnight Mommy, Pearl, The Black Phone, The Menu and Umma discuss how they tackled fear in their scores.