James Newton Howard
rejoins director M. Night Shyamalan for his latest feature, "The Happening."
The soundtrack offers 18 trackes from Howard and is available both online at
iTunes and also on retailer shelves. Given the costs involved in buying from
a physical storefront these days, I would recommend purchasing it online,
which is what I did. A soundtrack like this, even though it's from a
prominent composer, isn't exactly something I deem to be a collectable. Plus,
Varese Sarabande doesn't exactly offer much in the way of liner notes so my
purchase method was ideal for me.|
After my first
listen of this score, the best way I can summarize it is by saying that this
is a sturdy effort by Howard. While most of his other collaborative efforts
with Shyamalan have produced interesting styles, this one plays more along
the lines of "The Sixth Sense," which means it is more of a traditional type
of horror score. What makes it better than "The Sixth Sense", however, is
that "The Happening" might very well be the most gentle gothic score I might
have ever heard, combining a sense of human compassion with a semblance of
fright. In the end, though, it's the middle ground that prevails, thus
leaving the proceedings with a mixed result.
Happening" is not the type of score that will drive your senses in any one,
sharp direction for a sustained period of time. It's not quite haunting nor
is it emotional enough. Instead, it plays on as if it's an undercurrent to
what's happening (not a pun) on the screen. There are sounds of elegant
cellos, hushed underscore and unsettling orchestral lashes throughout the
album. It's effective, it's just not necessarily great fare since none of
the best aspects are sustained for any extended period of time.
soundtrack is at its most enjoyable when Howard lets the percussions out to
play for a bit, first heard in Track 4 and picked up again briefly near the
final act of the album. It's in these moments that the action is perceived
to be a little more raw and jaw tightening, which is a great reaction to a
horror score. In other areas of enjoyment, Howard's use of strings and piano
add a layer of emotion to the story and comes close to pulling the listener
in a bit deeper to the saga. In short, there is a proficient musical
tapestry in use but its effectiveness is probably best engaged while
watching the movie itself, wretched acting by Mark Wahlberg aside.
disappointment in "The Happening" is apparent since I have typically enjoyed
the Howard/Shyamalan collaborations in the past. No matter the deliberate
pace of the director's movies, Howard has typically created unique and
interesting motifs and underscores for each of the films, most noticeably
with "Signs" and "The Village." Here, though, it's back to square one, so to
speak, with more of a conventional horror/thriller score that is more
routine than it is original.
If you are a
fan of Howard's more serviceable efforts, than you will appreciate the work
he has provided for "The Happening" and would enjoy this soundtrack. If,
like me, you were geared up for another original, unique entry in the world
of the Howard/Shyamalan collaboration, than you will be left a bit
disappointed. A sturdy, workmanlike effort for sure, but not a
recommendation for the masses.