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The Frozen Ground by Lorne Balfe (Review)

posted Oct 8, 2013, 8:42 PM by Kaya Savas

Music is a completely essential part in not just building characters, but crafting atmosphere and setting. Lorne Balfe’s score to The Frozen Ground is a prime example of music building the perfect atmosphere. Lorne took the film’s setting in Alaska and its thriller plot line to craft a very rich score. The music pulsates, broods and echoes to craft a coldness that matches the narrative perfectly. The music has a fullness and weight that gives it an emotional pull in the right moments as it takes you deeper down all the way to the culmination. 


Right off the bat the score reminded me as a kind of blending of Se7en by Howard Shore and David Julyan’s Insomnia. Two very different scores, but for two similarly themed films. Lorne’s signature voice makes The Frozen Ground a unique entry in the serial killer drama genre. The music is able to build suspense very effectively with simple structures. The heaviness of the music adds a sense of dread and threat. The cold Alaskan setting is echoed by sonically crafting the feeling of a winter chill. I don’t know if that makes sense as it’s hard to explain. The score feels cold and I think it may have to do with the deep pounding percussion Balfe uses. In the same way that Burwell’s Fargo felt cold so does The Frozen Ground. Balfe takes us down the dreary path filled with suspense, and even pumps a little adrenaline into the music. Overall the score has a dark foreboding feel to it, but we finally get that bittersweet toned closure at the end.

The Frozen Ground is a very impressive score in that it’s a tightly and expertly executed narrative. The focus is always there, and the musical approach is extremely befitting of the story. The music commands its presence and always keeps a sense of dread present. There isn’t much character scoring here given it’s a plot-based thriller score, but there’s nothing wrong with that. The Frozen Ground makes for another impressive effort from Lorne Balfe who is having an extremely busy year.