Soundtrack Review: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
I am a big fan of most horror movies and have always had a particular place in my heart for those “classics” like A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. This love of horror is ironic since anyone who has watched a horror film with me (at least during first viewing) knows I spend the majority of the films with my hands over my eyes, too scared to man up and just watch. However, I never want to miss an awesome kill so I end up relying on the music to cue me to know when the build-up has passed and the action has started up again. If you have ever watched a horror movie on mute, you know that without the music, you lose a large part of the overall experience.
Another member of Hans Zimmer’s company, Remote Control Productions (composer John Powell, who scored HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON has also worked with this group), composer Steve Jablonsky (TRANSFORMERS, FRIDAY THE 13TH) brings us his sonic take on Wes Craven’s classic horror story. Unlike Charles Berstein’s score for the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1985), which was mainly created with the use of synthesizers giving it a very “80s” style, Jablonsky gives us a more rounded out orchestra to create the half real/half dream state of Freddy Krueger’s world.
The first track, “Freddy’s Coming for You," does a frightening (which I mean in a good way) job of combining the sounds of footsteps, which then build into the music and eventually blend with the tonal sounds of children. These ominous child-like voices (no real words – which I think deliver a better impact) run through to the second track, “Main Title," which also gives us the film’s theme that echoes throughout the score. This idea of children and their reference within the film is picked up in the other tracks as well, such as in “Research” which features accents of a children’s choir as our leads begin to learn where the origin of their horror started.
“Quiet Drive” is just that, quiet and almost soothing, drawing you in to a sense of comfort, which as any horror movie buff knows always happens right before the rug is pull out from under you. (Or in this case, the scissored hand reaches out to cut you.) Even though I knew in the back of my mind to be ready for the inevitable change, I do admit I still jumped slightly while listening.
“A Man Name Fred Krueger” is one of the more beautiful styled pieces, letting the violins and strings take center stage, painting a paradoxical picture of a man who is clearly evil juxtaposed against a pretty, dreamlike song. The less abrasive and haunting nature of this track suggests that maybe the man named Fred Krueger is not as evil as we have all come to believe, maybe he has not always been that way, or maybe he is and to him evil is beautiful. I always find it interesting when composers use style that plays against type to add depth to the characters and story they are supporting.
Jablonsky does well in understanding our tormentor, using sounds reminiscent of metal scratching against metal, immediately putting you on edge as you imagine Freddy (Jackie Earle Haley) running one of his scissor fingers across pipes and chalkboards to build the tension. The pieces begin to slow and take on an almost irreverent tone towards the end of the collection (and the climax of the film) with “The School” and “Where The Monster Lives."
I particularly enjoyed “Wake Me Up” which starts off slow, like when you begin to fall asleep, a lull which continues well into the track before it turns, much as dreams do when they shift into a nightmare. And I was also happy to get at least one track, “One More Nap," full of heavy metal and rock influenced driving guitar and drums, a staple of most horror films as we hit the climax.
Closing out the soundtrack is “Jump Rope," a nursery rhyme referenced throughout the film speaking to both the childlike undertones and off-putting back-story. One of my favorite parts of horror films is the use of seemingly innocent moments, such as children singing, and turning them on their ear. Listen closely to the lyrics on this one. (“1, 2, Freddy’s coming for you…”)
Neither Jablonsky or Samuel Bayer, the director of this latest NIGHTMARE installment, reinvent the wheel here, but the soundtrack is solid and kept me on edge while listening both in the theater and at home. Despite the track titles, which clearly correlate to specific scenes in the film, the score flows from song to song seamlessly, creating what it should; a musical nightmare full of twists and turns.
This soundtrack is available through WaterTower Music.
1. “Freddy’s Coming for You”
2. “Main Title”
3. “Missing Pictures”
5. “Quiet Drive”
6. “Jesse and Kris”
7. “Jesse and the Police”
8. “You Smell Different”
9. “A Man Named Fred Krueger”
11. “It’s Hot In here”
12. “The School”
13. “Where the Monster Lives”
14. “Wake Me Up”
16. “Like It Used to Be”
17. “One More Nap”
18. “Jump Rope”
All songs on this soundtrack composed by Steve Jablonsky.