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Blackwood by Lorne Balfe (Review)

posted Apr 22, 2015, 1:28 PM by Kaya Savas

Blackwood is your traditional ghost story thriller that follows a family moving into a creepy countryside home, and of course there is a history and things start going bump in the night. I was intrigued to see how Lorne was going to handle something in this genre and was pleasantly surprised that he approached it with melody and structure over ambience and dissonance. The score is effective at adding a menacing uneasiness, but also executed with a gentle touch that makes the whole thing fragile and therefore very accessible.

Blackwood feels more like a character journey that ends with a revelation instead of your traditional let’s try and scare the crap out of you type of score. Lorne starts us off with a wonderful main theme that he uses throughout the score. The score is heavily anchored with that theme plus some great melodic structures, and that makes it very accessible for the audience. We are placed in the footsteps of the characters and the narrative that way. Lorne employs some chilling builds and uneasiness techniques to build that mysterious ghostly atmosphere. There always seems to be something bubbling under the surface, and it feels the music is always about to pull the sheet off the secret revelation but you’re not sure if you want to see what’s under there. The score works with big broad strokes, the meaty track times really allow the score to do its job. By the end of it, you feel a definite resolution and a completion to the eerie journey. At times I didn't feel completely emotionally invested, but I was invested in the story from start to end. You don’t feel beaten or abused by the music, and that makes it a journey you feel eager to take again.

Blackwood is a simple yet effectively eerie ghost story score that does a great job at building atmosphere around a strong central theme. You feel like you are walking the same path as the characters instead of just bearing witness to the events. Lorne never bashes you or assaults you with the music, which I never found to be an effective way to “scare” the audience anyway. Instead he uses effective builds and tension techniques to heighten the thrills without resulting to formulaic tactics. Blackwood always remains more of a mysterious secret being uncovered rather than a full-on horror plot. The music makes you eager to find out the truth, even if the journey to that revelation is chilling and eerie. Lorne’s light-handed touch here makes the score work very well.