It seems counterintuitive at first, but the more you think about it the more it makes sense that a comedy writer would fit in well with the horror genre. Both comedy and horror are about focusing on extremes and the contrasting small details that lead up to those extremes. Setting up the punchline to a joke or a physical gag is not too different than building suspense to a jump scare or a shocking moment. For Get Out not only does Jordan Peele make his debut as a director, but accomplished composer Michael Abels makes his debut as a film composer. The score for Get Out does so much by staying incredibly simple. The resulting effect is a horror score that manages to tell a story just as well as it builds suspense and terror.
Usually any great horror movie has a deep mystery behind it that is slowly revealed as the main character goes through his or her journey. Here we follow Chris, who meets his girlfriend’s family for the first time at their estate. The film explores different aspects of genres as it blends horror scares with comedic tension relief moments intertwined with a social commentary. Abels gives the music a very organic and human feel by utilizing mainly acoustic instruments. The score really only features a string orchestra, harp and tuned metal percussion. There are some electronic textures but they are really used sparingly. The use of the African vocals (spoken in Swahili) were meant to comment on the plot but ended up giving the score a spooky human touch. All in all, the score never resorts to cliched horror tropes to startle or create uneasiness. It really is Abel’s talents as a musician and composer that allowed the score to be a core element of the storytelling process. The score on its own is made up of some decent length tracks, but also some short ones. Never at all does the score feel choppy or intrusive, instead it only is used when the scene needs it. If only a 40-second cue is needed to highlight a moment, that’s all that’s used. If there’s a 3-minute scene that needs score all the way through to build tension, that’s what’s used. In the end, the score’s meticulous attention to detail and craft are so impressive that it’s hard to believe that Michael Abels has never scored a film before.
There’s so much to enjoy in Michael Abels’ Get Out. The score in itself is a near perfect horror/thriller score that ignores all the cliches and tropes of the genre while still being extremely effective. With Peele as a first time director and Abels as a first time film composer, the two managed to take so much experience from their other projects and apply it on this canvas for a truly fresh perspective. The score for Get Out feels like you are slowly peeling an onion only to uncover raw meat in the center. The score is an expertly crafted horror score that keeps you hooked and surprised because it never does what you expect it to. There’s no gimmicks or tricks here, just well-executed storytelling from start to finish that embraces the genre.
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