When Ronen Landa’s The Pact came out I was supremely surprised at how effective the score was. In fact I felt it was a breath of fresh air for the genre. The Pact was directed by first-time director Nicholas McCarthy. McCarthy called upon Landa for his second feature with At The Devil’s Door, and Landa again delivers a decent attempt. that falls short. It’s not as well developed or structured as The Pact, but it’s effective at times.
At The Devil’s Door is an okay score that has quite a bit of interesting textures and approaches. It also has a lot of the generic horror stuff that bogs it down, and prevents it from being interesting. The opening theme is perfect; it entranced me and had me ready to go. The score quickly devolves to the not so inspired though. We get creepy whispers, out of tune violins, trickling strings, etc. Landa does utilize that main theme though, and it allows the score to walk on its own a bit. The problem comes with the “scary” stuff. Instead of intricately building terror or suspense, it feels like someone just trying whatever they can to be “scary”. And for the most part you as the listener are like “Yup, that’s creepy. Yup, that’s loud and intimidating”. You are aware of what the score is trying to do, but its intentions are not sticking.
Ronen Landa is a very talented composer, and that is super evident in his body of work. I just think here we had a bit of an overambitious sophomore director who tried too hard, and had his composer try too hard as well. It’s not all bad, and there are certainly moments to admire here but also much to skip over. The score is at its best when it isn’t trying to be a horror score, and letting its wonderful theme take hold. However, those moments are few and far between.
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