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400 Days by Wojchiech Golczewski (Review)

posted May 5, 2016, 3:51 PM by Kaya Savas

Polish composer Wojchiech Golczewski re-teams with director Matt Osterman for the second time with this sci-fi thriller. The plot has a clever hook; it’s about a group of astronauts entering a simulation of a 400 day long space mission. It takes place in an underground facility that is meant to isolate them and train them for the real mission. As expected, the line between reality and simulation starts to blur as strange things start to happen. The score’s fully electronic approach allows for some interesting textures, but in the end has trouble keeping the whole journey afloat.

400 Days’ sound and structure seems like a cross between Hans Zimmer’s Chappie and Clint Mansell’s Moon just to give you a feel. What the score does very well is create mood and atmosphere. The scratchy and harsh synth sounds are definitely meant to represent the psyche and minds of our protagonists breaking down, and it does a good job of placing the audience in a hectic state of mind. The more fragile and melodic part of the score seems like it was intended to create mystery and intrigue, but I feel like it ends up feeling more like innocence and has a childlike quality to it. Which is why I immediately thought of Chappie. It doesn’t fully mesh together and gives off more of a creepy vibe instead of an intriguing one. The whole score tries its best to sustain tension and mystery, but in the end begins to feel a bit shapeless. I think a more subtle and not so “sci fi” approach would have made things way more interesting. I totally lost any sense of character about halfway through the score and it felt to begin forced, which ended up making things feel a bit abrasive.

400 Days doesn’t fail in its mission to create atmosphere and uneasiness, but it doesn’t succeed in presenting an engaging musical narrative. I felt bits and pieces of the score working, and there are moments that do stand out. However, there isn’t much to keep you hooked or engaged in terms of character or emotion. I like the attempt to create this musical representation of a psychological breakdown, but it just didn’t really come together all that well in the end. It’s worth a listen if you’re looking for composer trying something unique and for that it’s a score that should be applauded even if the end result is far from perfect.