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Killer Joe by Tyler Bates (Review)

posted Nov 10, 2012, 9:34 AM by Kaya Savas

Killer Joe is a violent and darkly twisted film from William Friedkin, a director known for pushing boundaries. Friedkin has never really been a loyal director when it comes to composers. He did work with Brian Tyler on two consecutive films, but here we find a perfect match with Tyler Bates. Bates delivers an absolutely awesome score here, probably one of his best that's up there with his score for The Way. I have never been a fan Zack Snyder's work so the Watchmen and 300 scores never really connected with me. However, here he delivers a soundscape that enveloped me from start to finish.

The southern twanged music starts off heavy and immediately drops you into the Texas setting. It feels gritty and harsh at first but through more calculated textures the score starts to take shape. He immediately establishes a motif for Killer Joe and it's a bit chilling and foreboding. The music has a distinct presence that crafts a dark atmosphere. By dark I don't mean in a sadistic way as the music never feels aggressive at all. It's just dark in tone, but that translates to suspense and foreboding as I mentioned earlier. Bates stays melodic with great tracks that catch your ear and make you feel like you were dropped into a modern day spaghetti western. The score is executed so precisely that you feel every note and beat. It builds tension very effectively and you really start to feel it take hold of you. The echoing harmonica that plays a huge role in the soundscape becomes so iconic to the music's identity. The score concludes in a very satisfying manner as well. The end track is really the only time the score feels a bit unsettling (in a good way), but it leaves you surprisingly wanting to jump back to track 1.

Killer Joe is a fantastic exercise in precision from Tyler Bates. This is music that really connects with me and the composer has really hit full stride with this score. The minimal approach of it is very welcome since the score has such graspable melodies for the listener to hang on to. The soundscape and the sonic identity are unique and perfect. The score as a whole is just a fantastic and supremely effective listen. This is definitely without question one of Tyler Bates' strongest scores and is a must listen.