The past few years have marked the emergence of some very talented new names in horror. Roque Baños and Fernando Velázquez, to name two, have seemingly taken up the mantle of veteran horror maestro Christopher Young, following in his footsteps with their richly thematic, primarily orchestral approach to scoring horror. With Deep in the Darkness, composer Matthew Llewellyn (known primarily for his work on Brian Tyler's scores) launches to their level and suggests himself another worthy successor to Young's legacy. Like the best of Baños and Velázquez, his score teems with thematic richness and symphonic complexity. In short, it's a chilling, wholly organic, and unbeatably classy thrill-ride.
Opening the album, "Deep in the Darkness" drums up some anxiety right away with a grandiose, cacophonic burst that soon eases into a bed of slithering, trembling strings. "The Deighton Residence" lets things settle a little and introduces the score's main theme, an idea both whimsical and graceful that still manages to retain a lingering sense of mystery. "Rise of the Isolates" reeks a little orchestral mayhem, with powerful brass blasting away over franticly chopping strings. "Welcome to Ashborough", a highlight of the score, explores the main theme in more depth, with a wonderfully sweeping statement at its beginning. Llewellyn then introduces another theme in this cue, a brief, comforting idea on warm strings that calls to mind portions of Michael Giacchino's Super 8. "A Good Fit" draws us back into moodier territory, as wistful piano notes build to a slow, mysterious crescendo of the string ensemble. The all-out horror hasn't really begun yet, but Llewellyn has carefully crafted a mood that hints at all sorts of sinister folklore and hidden secrets about to come to light.
In "Infiltrating the House", the composer dishes up some subtle suspense before lending gravitas to the "Welcome to Ashborough" material in "Don't Trust Lady Zellis". A tone of foreboding is maintained throughout the following "You Can Protect Me", "Eyes in the Distance" (now that's a chilling track title!), "They're Coming for You", and "Lauren Hunter Is Hunted", each exploring routine but well-executed stingers, buzzing brass clusters trembling, sinuous string ensembles, etc. The draws of these cues are not really these portions, though they are indeed crafted deftly enough as to hold interest, but the more harmonic passages, the ominous, winding interludes that Llewellyn punctuates his dissonant suspense material with. Such passages are the highlight of a cue like "Black Light Beauty", which boasts a particularly effective midsection of wandering strings underlying a brass section that slowly builds in despair. The situation is dire in "It's Too Late", with fragments of the main theme hinted at before we get another full-bodied, melodic exploration in the wonderful "Ashborough Assimilation". The delicate piano motif in this particular cue is something quite beautiful, an innocent, lullaby-like idea tinged with notes of sadness. "We're Not Going Back" snatches us out of that beautiful, melancholic daze, though, and pulls us back into some weighty suspense material that culminates in the powerhouse duo of "The Swarm" and "Crawling for Jessica". Both following the framework of "Rise of the Isolates", these cues feature frantic strings and thunderous brass. The album finishes with a restatement of the main thematic ideas in "Back Into the Light", another highlight of the score. It's a superb closer, delivering an appropriately weary denouement, with grand statements of the main theme that ultimately conclude with a cacophonic crescendo suggesting lingering danger for our characters.
In Deep in the Darkness, Matthew Llewellyn delivers sophisticated, symphonic horror in the vein of Roque Baños and Fernando Velázquez. The score boasts well-executed (if rather typical) suspense portions, a few effective "jump out of your seat" moments, and an impressive assortment of memorable themes. What more could you ask for? Highly recommended cues like "Welcome to Ashborough", "Ashborough Assimilation", and "Back Into the Light" display the composer's talent for weaving a seductive, whimsical and foreboding set of textures and thematic ideas - no small feat in a genre increasingly dominated by electronics and ambient soundscapes. In fact, I can't quite express how pleasantly surprised I was with this score. I'm a devoted fan of the horror genre and, truthfully, expected nothing more than a workmanlike effort from this one. To my surprise, I got something so much more: an emotionally developed journey laced with distinct themes and a thick, rich atmosphere throughout! Indeed, with Deep in the Darkness, composer Matthew Llewellyn has proven himself a name to watch on the horror horizon!
A Few Recommended Tracks: "Welcome to Ashborough", " "Don't Trust Lady Zellis", "Ashborough Assimilation", "Crawling for Jessica", "Back Into the Light"
Label: Screamworks Records
Availability: 20 track edition