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Evil Dead by Roque Baños (Review)

posted Apr 13, 2013, 4:37 PM by Koray Savas   [ updated Apr 13, 2013, 4:40 PM ]
Roque Baños is a fairly unknown composer, but I had always known him for his brilliant Herrmannesque score for The Machinist. Primarily scoring Spanish films and American independents like Sexy Beast, Baños inarguably makes his biggest splash in Hollywood with his music for the remake/reboot of Sam Raimi's cult classic, The Evil Dead.

In order to fully grasp the entirety of how the music works in the film, one must understand that this film follows every cliche known to the horror genre. If you have seen Drew Goddard's The Cabin In The Woods, which satires and exploits genre cliches, this film is the exact same as that sans humor. Five archetypal characters go to a cabin in the woods, they stupidly read aloud from an evil book that summons the devil from his slumber and when all five are slain he can rise from hell unbound. Everyone knows how it goes, and let me make it clear that I understand that Raimi's original helped pave the way for the contemporary horror film, but that still does not excuse this one of not standing on its own two feet. Now, the music for a by-the-book slasher horror can only be so much, and Baños reaches that limit of creativity and punctual emotional weight. This score is fantastic, but is ultimately and unfortunately held back by the superfluous genre cliches. The physical CD release from La-La Land Records runs long; it is a hefty 70 minutes and appears to be the complete score. A fantastic release in its own right, but musically things do not get interesting until the last 30 minutes of the score. The first half of the musical narrative runs shallow with loud strings and 'jump in your seat' moments, entwined with typical mood and ambience underscore. There is a slight taste of the delicious choral work early on, and throughout Baños utilizes an air raid siren for a chilling effect, but the Silent Hill game series started that one over a decade ago. "I'll Do What I Gotta Do" through the rest of the album is where Baños goes all out and takes us on an orchestral, choral, bombastic, helluva thrilling ride. The climax of the film in "Abominations Rising" is horror scoring at its finest. There is tantalizing melody fully backed with rhythmic strings and shouting choir cascades down over it all. Never has film horror sounded so hair-raisingly good. It manages to be loud and exciting without being in your face about it. There is also some fantastic lyrical writing in "The Pendant/Evil Tango," which sends the film off into the credits.

Despite its flaws, Evil Dead is one of the best horror scores in a dying genre filled with derivation. Roque Baños manages to balance the inherent cliches with his own unique flare that drastically elevates the musical journey to an emotional climax that feels complete and satisfying rather than the usual meandering emptiness.