Review of Horror OST Album by EMA

Scoring a partially animated film about social media cyber bullying by a group of generally spoilt, largely wealthy twelve year old girls obsessed with devices, appearances and acceptance doesn't necessarily seem like the best fit for Erika M Anderson (EMA). Scoring a horror film about a group of unpleasant, unlikable preteens who have a compulsive addition to an on-line social media game and how that turns into a night of terror and insanity however sounds like it could work.

EMA Horror OST Album

The former lead singer of drown-folk group Gowns has released three albums since going solo and each has been characterised by its personal, introspective and somehow comfortingly claustrophobic atmosphere. EMA's dark, brooding drama and her ability to create beautifully textured soundscapes, that are both evocative and stirring, are surely why debut director Tara Subkoff commissioned EMA for her film, #Horror.

#Horror, written and directed, by the actress, artist and fashion designer Subkoff centres around a group of girls left to their own devices (no pun intended!) on a night that turns uglier than any of them could have imagined. Horror aficionados may not have exactly taken to the film in their droves but there were some notable performances, particularly from Chloe Sevigny ('American Psycho', 'American Horror Story', 'Dogville') and Timothy Hutton ('Ordinary People', 'Taps', 'Leverage') as well as some praise worthy cinematography and plenty of individuality shown by Subkoff.

The OST that accompanies the film by EMA helps to set the tone of the film as well as enhance its quality. It might not be 'classic' horror fayre comparable to Halloween or Psycho but it does work very well. Neither does the OST need the film as justification; for the most part it also works as a standalone piece too. There are the more obvious 'horror' soundtrack moments where repeating rhythms bubble under the surface, strings scratch and saw in unison and periodic thumping crescendos arrive to extenuate and exaggerate the palpable tension (Running Danger) but there are others such as the choral, tubular dreamlike bewilderment of 'Harshmallow World' that charter new territory altogether. #Horror has impending doom and dark foreboding on 'Danger Theme' as well as a wonderful cyclical menace, traced out by unrelenting ticking, synthy bass lines and barely there under currents. At times, stirring, chilling and brilliantly balanced, some of it, in particular, 'Dr White In The House', is reminiscent of some of the recent soundtrack work of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, and that is no bad thing.

The original soundtrack to #Horror also gives up another, slightly less anticipated, gem in the form of it's only conventional 'song', 'Amnesia Haze'. Veering from her norm EMA delivers up a soft. almost seductive but playfully sinister track more in keeping with the likes of Lana Del Rey. "You were just a child" Erika repeats as the strings revolve and the bass wraps around her, her vocal changing beautifully from light and adolescent to deep and smoky creating a wonderfully worked piece of dream-pop.

#Horror the movie may not have captured the hearts of cinephiles but that is by no means the fault of its soundtrack composer Erika M Anderson. #Horror OST is another part of her growing portfolio of solo work that she should be justifiably proud of.

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