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By JASON COMERFORD

Editor/writer/director Ti West is horror cinema’s latest and most interesting triple threat, and he is steadily building an intriguing body of work that aims higher than the aggressively average gut-rippers that clog bargain bins. West’s 2009 chiller The House of the Devil announced the arrival of a serious and determined talent, achieving a deliberately retro production aesthetic through the use of elements like 16mm film stock, 80s-style credit fonts, and a story fashioned around the “Satanic panic” scare that swept through the country in the Reagan era. The film ultimately takes far too long to arrive at an obvious and rather inconclusive ending, but there’s a lot to admire about it, and it set the stage for West’s followup, 2011’s The Innkeepers, his finest effort yet.

West’s frequent musical collaborator, Jeff Grace, cut his teeth as part of Howard Shore’s musical team, assisting on Shore’s Lord of the Rings scores as well as The Score, Panic Room, Spider, and Gangs of New York, before striking out on his own. Grace has slowly and steadily built a fascinating body of work primarily in horror (West’s films as well as The Last Winter, I Sell the Dead, and Stake Land), but in other genres as well (particularly his striking score for Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff). The House of the Devil finds Grace operating at full capacity, building a sense of menacing unease through the use of prepared piano, the offset tunings emphasizing the isolation of the film’s main character, Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue), whose lonely babysitting job threatens, at any moment, to turn deadly. As Grace explained in an interview with Daniel Schweiger for Film Music Magazine:

As always, Ti wanted to go for some different sounds, so we started talking about piano. I thought about it a bit and started messing with prepared piano. There’s the whole isolated element to Samantha. She’s in a weird house, in a weird situation (babysitting for a very odd family, the baby turns out to an old person), in the middle of nowhere with no one else around. There are a lot of pregnant pauses that needed to be dealt with, but that is all opportunity to create a sonic world to draw the audience into the film. And in a film like that it becomes a real balancing act. You don’t want to overstate things or have the score attract too much attention to itself, but it’s really just a person standing in a hallway or looking at a door. You don’t want to reveal too much too soon, and Ti is always cognoscente of audience expectations and keeping people guessing.

Once the tide (finally) turns, Grace goes all-out, unleashing a series of blistering cues as Samantha is captured and terrorized by the Satanists upstairs. “He’s Calling You” is a climactic highlight, with strings trembling and bristling over clusters of percussive strikes as Samantha’s dark fate unfolds. Grace’s score for The House of the Devil is relatively brief (just over half an hour on MovieScore Media’s CD release, paired with his music for Graham Reznick’s thriller I Can See You), but incredibly effective, and it’s an excellent entry point into the oeuvre of one of film music’s most promising talents.


 



The Moment in Question:

Click [here] to listen to a sample
of “He's Calling You,” composed
by Jeff Grace.

Jeff Grace portrait
... ...Jeff Grace

Installment Prize:

A prize will be awarded at the
end of each week through
random drawing from the pool
of participants contributing
comments - Prize information
and drawing for Week 3
Coming Soon!

What do you think?

Click here to submit a comment
for this installment.

Awesome Websites!

Jeff Grace official website

HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (SAE)


Next Installment:

Charles Previn, Hans J. Salter
and Frank Skinner howl at the
moon. THE WOLF MAN (1941)

Jason Comerford Bio


     
     
     
     
READER COMMENTS:

Howlin' Wolf  
If you do not have this score yet - BUY IT! It is a literal steal for only $1.95 at Screen Archives. You can order House of the Devil, along with other incredible Jeff Grace scores for truly bargain prices. A big thanks to MovieScoreMedia & Screamworks & SAE for providing these great scores and not forgetting those of us who love horror and suspense!

We are still waiting to hear from some of the winners from Weeks 1 and 2. Click the links below for info on the winners and prizes.

Week 1 Winners and Prize Options

Week 2 Winner and Prize Options
     
Dino  
I remember seeing this film once and the only thing that truly grabbed my attention was the score. Jeff has some great talent in his ability to move people to being scared. I don't have this one in my collection, thanks for letting me know about where to get it... sad so many great scores, so cheap.
     
Jonathan   Well, this one has been in my cart at SAE for a while now. So I guess I should finally get it. Thanks for giving us this chill.
     
Scott   While I have never seen the movie and can't really comment on that, I have heard the score a few times and it is quite good. As Jason has said, it is only $1.95 right now at SAE ...how could you possibly go wrong!!
     
Jeff   I really liked the atmosphere created by Jeff Grace in The House of the Devil. It really adds to the isolation. I finally bought it a few months ago.

When I won the Week 1 contest, I chose The Last Winter because I wanted to hear more Jeff Grace.
     
S. Dawg   The film is after my time but the write-up makes me want to visit it and the score.