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A Single Shot by Atli Örvarsson (Review)

posted Oct 9, 2013, 11:27 PM by Kaya Savas

If you don’t know me personally then you probably don’t know that since high school I’ve been making the movie A Single Shot. Well, not exactly that movie. But I have made several short films sharing similar themes that A Single Shot shares. I love the idea of characters isolated by their surroundings while having to face hard moral decisions. I think it’s the best way to strip a character down and really connect. It's really where I find the character the most vulnerable and true. Plus I have a soft spot for cinematography and love to shoot landscapes. So, naturally I was more than intrigued when A Single Shot was released. I was even more intrigued when Atli was announced as the composer as he’s one of my favorites. This score is nothing that you’d expect from Atli, and it’s definitely one of his best.

The score is an incredible tension-filled journey with a brooding darkness underneath it. A short foreboding piano prelude opens the album and then the rest of the album becomes a slow psychological plunge into hell. The album is only 7 tracks, but the total running time is a little over 42-minutes. So you have great beefy tracks hitting around the 8 and 9-minute mark. We are presented 3 major movements that take us through the 3-act structure of the story. The score does not let up one bit. It’s as if you’re pulling a thread to unravel a piece of fabric but it never stops. You keep pulling and pulling and it keeps going and going. This makes for an exhausting listening experience, but a thrilling one as well. Örvarsson employs a few horror score trademarks, and at times you would think this was a horror score. It’s definitely unsettling and uneasy, but damn is it effective. Any thematic or melodic structure will be found in the opening and finale as the rest of the score works as one big piece rather than tiny moments. This isn’t ambient scoring as the score has a defining force behind it, but it may be hard for some listeners to digest. I love that the score has a psychological layer underneath it. It’s a suspense tale of moral ambiguity that pulls and pushes the characters’ psyche in different directions.

A Single Shot is a fantastic score that works in long waves to build a bleak and hellish nightmare of a situation. It translates the psychological and moral turmoil of the story straight to the listener. It builds long streaks of tension and suspense while making you feel uneasy throughout. Many people fail to realize that scores aren’t meant to be great driving music to play in your stereo, and those people may have trouble with the music here. This is a well-paced doozy of a score from Atli Örvarsson, and the fact that it’s nothing like we’ve heard from him before makes it even all the more exciting.

Also, for the curious here are the trailers for two films I made and A Single Shot's. You'll see why I was immediately excited by this film as it shares my love for the man/woods/gun combination.

An Unfortunate Circumstance (this was way back in school so forgive the bad acting/editing etc. As you can see I tried to perfect it with A Sincere Prospect)