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10 Cloverfield Lane by Bear McCreary (Review)

posted Mar 11, 2016, 4:12 PM by Kaya Savas

Bear McCreary has steadily been one of the most prominent and unique voices in the film and TV industry. He has essentially dominated the TV landscape with his scores to Battlestar Galactica, The Walking Dead, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, Black Sails, Outlander, Da Vinci’s Demons and much more. His video game scores also further established him as one of the more recognizable sounds out there. While Bear has had a few feature film scoring opportunities, not too many stood out and embodied his true voice as a composer (except maybe Europa Report). Thankfully he was given the amazing canvas that is 10 Cloverfield Lane. In this anthology entry to the Cloverfield universe, Bear gets to flex his real writing skills to give us something that is so boldly his yet still a love letter to composers such as Goldsmith and Herrmann.

10 Cloverfield Lane is not a sequel to Cloverfield, but rather an experiment from J.J. Abrams whose Bad Robot Productions picked up the script from novice writers Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken originally titled The Cellar. Maybe it appealed to Abrams who was reminiscing of the hatch plot line from LOST? Anyway, one of the producers who knew Dan Trachtenberg suggested him and boom he was signed on to direct his first feature. The idea was to make it part of the Cloverfield universe while not having anything to do with the story or characters of the found-footage movie that precedes it, and I think based on its success I’m sure we’ll see where it goes further.

What Bear has done with the score is essentially given us an old school orchestral thriller that builds suspense and mystery with tons of character and wonder as well. The main theme heard in the first track carries throughout the score and gives us an anchoring point. This really is centered around the character of Michelle Since that theme represents her, we immediately are with her throughout the journey of the narrative. I love that the score balances this sense of mysterious wonder as well as chilling terror all wrapped together to craft a score that really never lets go until the final ending suite. As an audience, you are so engaged in the story all thanks to the music. Which tells you that it is perfectly hitting the story beats from start to finish. Since the film is not terribly long, the score is just as focused as the film’s narrative. There isn’t any excess fluff that Bear needed to throw in there, so what we have is lean and mean ride all the way to the end. I love that the theme bookends the score and represents a change in our character through her journey. The score is all about the stakes and eagerly anticipating what comes next, so we don’t have much room for more nuanced emotions. However, that doesn’t stop Bear from delivering one of the best modern thrillers in years.

The score allows Bear to truly channel his voice as a composer and deliver one of the best modern thrillers we’ve heard in years. He echoes some of his heroes such as Bernard Herrmann and Jerry Goldsmith, but it never gets in the way of Bear’s voice and the amazing craftsmanship he’s displaying with this score. The music is mysterious, curious, engaging, exciting, scary, thrilling and yet feels very intimate as well. Bear relies on his well-developed theme crafted for our main character, and lets it take us through the journey. This thriller is near perfection, and it elevates the well-executed film to a level it would not be at without the music.