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Dead In Tombstone by Hybrid (Review)

posted Oct 28, 2013, 8:43 PM by Kaya Savas

You may know the group Hybrid as the English electronica band comprised of Mike Truman, Chris Healings and Charlotte James. With the ever-rising popularity of electronica bands making the jump into film scoring one would have expected to see more from Hybrid long ago given their past collaborations with composer Harry Gregson-Williams. The group worked on many of Harry’s scores from Man On Fire onwards contributing music programming and additional scoring. You can definitely tell a little of Harry rubbed off on them with this score to their second feature. Dead In Tombstone is a western starring Danny Trejo as he gets some revenge on the baddies that double-crossed him. It’s a ‘been there, done that’ story except this time it’s a poorly shot, poorly lit and unfortunately poorly scored straight to video western that thinks it’s being way cooler than it is.

I would consider myself a western aficionado; it’s my favorite genre after all. Once Upon A Time In The West is my favorite film of all-time, so I have high standards when it comes to the genre. I appreciate all forms of homages, references and inspirations from modern takes like No Country For Old Men, horror twists like Tremors, to full-throttle visions like The Lone Ranger. However, when you take the genre and use it only because it’s “cool” with nothing really to offer then the attempt falls flat on its face. Musically, you’d be hard pressed to even know this was for a western if you listened to it without reference. However, even as just a score it fails in many places. The score just pulsates in the background in all its electronic glory. And you might say, well Hybrid is sticking to their style and giving the western their own personal twist. Sorry, if you’re gonna play in this genre then you have certain rules you need to follow. You need to follow rules set by the great filmmakers and composers who defined the genre. And if you’re going to try and “re-invent” the genre then at least give us some hooking melodies, gritty intensity or big sweeping moments that shine a light on the characters and landscape. Harry Gregson-Williams did an excellent job with Seraphim Falls. That was a true western and he made it his own, which makes me wonder if Hybrid didn’t listen to what he was teaching them. The music lacks emotion, it lacks a connection with the story and the landscape. And the fact that they have a remix of “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo” on there is adding even more of an insult. That means someone, be it the composers or the filmmakers saw the trailer for the dud of a video game called Call Of Juarez: The Cartel, which used that song in their trailer. They then decided to just pull the good ol’ “rip-off” and put that song in their dud of a western. The western is an amazing genre. The reason why I love it is because the idea of characters trying to survive amongst a suffocating yet stunningly beautiful landscape is enthralling to me. Unfortunately, musically I didn’t get any of that.

Hans Zimmer made the western his, Carter Burwell made the western his, Woody Jackson made the western his, Robert Rodriguez made the western his and all the great composers of the past made it their own as well. Even if you were to look at this score not from a western point of view, it still lacks all the necessities of a successful score. You won’t find any emotional progression, there is barely any dramatic structure and the execution is poorly paced while being thematically weak. Dead In Tombstone is (sorry for the pun) lifeless. Not every electronica band will find the success of Daft Punk, Trent Reznor or M83. Hybrid has a great sound, but it’s not honed enough for film scoring.