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Animals by Ian Hultquist (Review)

posted May 29, 2015, 4:45 PM by Kaya Savas

Film is a way for us to explore every aspect of our own humanity, and not everything is fairy tales and rainbows. I once asked someone if they watched True Detective when season 1 was airing. They said no, reasoning that there is enough rape and murder in reality so why would anyone want to watch that on TV. I understand it, I don’t agree with it. Exploring the darker sides of humanity is important and I feel the more you explore then the more you understand and form your own understandings. Such is the case with Animals, which explores a couple in love who slowly descend into a life of drug addiction. I found the score by Ian Hultquist to be something special here in that it really does a great job at humanizing people that most people see as scum and degenerates.

The score for Animals is so simple yet hits the characters with precision. Now even if the film had a large budget and wasn’t a small independent feature, I still think this approach would be perfect. The acoustic guitar is used for the music that accompanies the true Bobbie and Jude (our protagonists). This acoustic guitar is an analog instrument, it’s alive, it’s true and it’s not being masked or diffused. Once our characters slip into darkness we are introduced to an electronic trancelike transition point. This perfectly represent the euphoria of drug use, that escape that people seek. This of course then transitions into a darker more dreary electronic soundscape. At this point our characters are in the hell they created for themselves, and musically it's built around them as we travel through their journey to get back to their true selves. We finish back with guitars and euphoria at the end signaling a transformation. Now you may knock a score that only totals 16-minutes, but rest assured that it feels complete. Songs populate the rest of the soundtrack and are used within the film to weave with the score, but the fact that the score is a complete narrative makes it very effective.

The gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar introduces us to our loving couple before an electronic wash of despair and hopelessness consumes them in this story of addiction. While addiction is something we as a society seem to associate with inferior beings, Animals attempts to humanize and understand people in this situation. Ian Hultquist’s simple yet effective score achieves this through a gentle and nuanced approach.