Lurking behind this somewhat ho-hum exercise in thriller-procedural is a score by (no surprise here) horror-master Christopher Young. Being a fervent fan of the genre for years, I can safely say that Young is one of my favorite composers working in horror today. Time and time again he delivers not only in the horror genre but across genres. All you have to do is look to The Rum Diary, Murder in the First, The Shipping News, or Creation for testaments to his adaptability across genres or Ghost Rider and Priest for his efforts a bit closer to home. Though it falls short of what Young achieved in the following year with The Uninvited, his score for Untraceable is solid nonetheless.
The dominating force here, heard in "Untraceable", is a chilly title theme that’s classic Young. Based around a swelling, quivering string section of alternating chords, it’s beautiful, even entrancing, but the theme always maintains a foreboding sense of lurking despair. It’s thankfully quite malleable, which it has to be given that it’s the most prominent identity in the score. "Missing Flowers" uses the same ensemble of strings, piano, and plucking acoustics to cast the theme in a less threatening light. It’s not quite warm, maintaining a little bit of the title cue’s icy demeanor, but it offers some tenderness to assuage the otherwise dark remainder of the score. The trembling strings of the title theme recur at numerous points in nearly every track, either acting as an accent to various horror atmospherics or accompanying a reprise of the theme. The last cue, "Kill With Me" (referring to the villain’s website KillWithMe.com) contains such a reprise of the "Missing Flowers" variation. Throughout the cue, you’ll be reminded of the similarly cold beauty of Christopher Young’s The Uninvited, but it’s especially apparent with the string work from 2:41 on.
"Death After Life After Death" has the theme interacting with the villain’s motif, more of a repeating rhythm than a theme. Most commonly denoted by a light cymbal with chopping strings, it’s reminiscent of a ticking clock, ever counting down to the death of the killer’s next victim. It’s rather simplistic, but it gets the job done and suggests more cleverness in Young’s composition than its often faint presence in the film betrays. Like the main theme, it occurs in almost every cue but it most notably carries the tense finale cue, "Blinking the Code".
The rest of the horror and suspense material in Young’s Untraceable is stark and atmospheric, composed of swelling string sections that brood in the lower registers or tremble in the higher ones when not directly addressing the main theme or villain’s motif. Due to the heavy incorporation of those themes, though, the score largely evades a complete abandonment of theme and melody for much of its runtime (much like, say, Joseph Bishara’s work on The Conjuring). Even at its most cacophonous, it rarely retrogresses into mere noise, but the score is often so shadowy and indistinct in the film’s mix that it won’t strike you as one of Young’s cleverer works. And it’s not. Aside from the highly recommended main theme in "Untraceable", its "Missing Flowers", and "Kill With Me" variations, and "Blinking the Code" (for good measure) Untraceable is an unspectacular but solid effort from Young. He’s done some much craftier and more complex work than what’s represented here, but I’ve got a soft spot for Young’s dark and effective contribution to Untraceable.
A Few Recommended Tracks: "Untraceable", "Missing Flowers", "Blinking the Code", "Kill With Me"
Label: Lakeshore Records
Availability: 11 track edition and 12 track iTunes edition (including the website’s theme)