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The Thirteenth Tale by Benjamin Wallfisch (Review)

posted Feb 14, 2014, 2:08 PM by Kaya Savas

After listening to several of Benjamin Wallfisch’s scores one can easily tell just how amazing this composer is. His ability to pull you in and pull out an emotional response is actually quite extraordinary. I think a major reason why I dislike suspense films is that I am never emotionally engaged in anything that’s ever happening. The very few thrillers I love usually have an extraordinary score behind them that is doing something special. Off the top of my head I’m thinking Ennio Morricone’s The Thing, Hans Zimmer’s The Ring and Christopher Young’s Sinister. Wallfisch has shown that his orchestral approach stands above the rest of what we usually hear, and with The Thirteenth Tale he delivers a wonderfully engrossing score that paints emotions and absorbs you into the story without forcefully trying to scare you with formulaic tactics. 

The Thirteenth Tale sets off the story with some lush arrangements, and really painting character portraits. There is a bit of foreshadowing going on in the music as the score has a mysterious and uncertain quality to it. Once we get deeper into the story we are introduced to some suspense elements. Now, some may not even classify this is as a horror score, and even IMDb lists it as a drama. But the score is doing way more than just dramatic structure here. Wallfisch does an excellent job of building suspense and getting those hairs to stand up. The score thrills without being forceful and that takes a lot of skill. It’s very easy for a composer to fall into certain traps of horror scoring, and skillfully Wallfisch steers clear of them. This results in an eerie score that builds an unsettling atmosphere, but still has an elegance about it. It really reminds me of what Hans Zimmer did with The Ring except with a lot less “horror” elements. The score concludes with a perfectly beautiful end titles track that feels as if you are closing the back cover of a book and saying “the end”.

Benjamin Wallfisch has composed a very effective and engrossing ghost story here. The music fleshes out the characters and sets up the eerie tale in a way that continually peaks your interest. As we dive deeper the music never becomes predictable and always keeps the brooding suspense there. Wallfisch has composed some tremendous work recently and I truly believe he is bound to become one of the greats.