Music by The Newton Brothers
Varese Sarabande – 2014
In a bunch of ways The Newton Brothers score for Oculus reminds me of the music for The Mothman Prophecies. In similar fashion to tomandandy’s revolutionary score, the music seems to have a life of its own as it progresses forward, ever increasing its grasp on reaching you on not just physical (reactionary) level, but getting you on a deeply psychological realm as well.
Unlike many film scores, the music for Oculus isn’t recycled themes that play over and over. The composition evolves telling a story that feels mysterious and driven by emotion.
“Recurring Dream” has a deep underling heart-beat like synthesizer that would easily fit into a John Carpenter film. The crescendo of strings at the end is powerfully hair-raising.
The 50-piece string section gently begins “The Auction.” But throbbing electronics remind us there is a dangerous threat lurking near.
The cavernous meaning behind “Moving In” is felt from the strings. This cue wonderfully supports the characters heartstrings getting pulled.
The composers concoct an emotional swell in “History of the Mirror.” The strings elegantly carry the weight of the track’s purpose. There’s almost a patient, waiting quality to how it’s laid out.
You can literally feel the inner gears turning in the minds of the onscreen characters in “Fuzzy-Trace Theory.”
The Newton Brothers put the orchestral hammer down in “Fingernails.” The duo utilizes some of the custom sounds they spent a month compiling, which include; broken glass and metal scrapes, which go along with the skin-tingling strings.
The music of “The Reveal” feels like seeing a layer of fog or mist covering something wicked lying beneath the surface. The low bass line-thirds in, which utilize a repeating echo technique, remind me of what James Horner did in Aliens.
There’s real purposeful build from track 22 “Marisol, Marisol, Marisol” to track 29 “This Isn’t Real.” The musical approach is subdued with the tactic that it crawls under your skin, rather than being loud & obnoxious. The Brothers don’t give anything away, kind of like a deadly spider that’s laid out its web, waiting for a victim to get caught in its trap.
The longest cue of this soundtrack is “Staring Eyes.” This five-minute creepy crawler uses quiet, almost silent moments to construct a buildup of dread. Lower scale frequency notes turn and churn almost without notice, before something chilling slowly but surely moves up your spine.
“I’ve Seen The Devil and He is ME” prickles with terror. There is also a great deal of disappointing sorrow captured within this track.
There is not a lot of warmth to “A Mother’s Embrace.” In fact, it feels as though you are hugging a vile, deadly embodiment of evil rather than someone who loves unconditionally.
The movie’s title track “Oculus” encapsulates human tragedy within its beautiful notes. The use of choir heightens whatever bad transpires onscreen that causes great sadness.
UK Techno-trance music mastermind Paul Oakenfold (who did the track “Ready Steady Go” for the awesome Korean nightclub shootout scene in Michael Mann’s Collateral) remixes the last two cues with The Newton Brothers to give this horror film a propulsive kick in the arse. The score elements are woven together with a shot of electronic propulsion. Female artist Greta adds her ethereal voice to “Oculus of Glass” to make it hauntingly beautiful and catchy.
In all, there are 71-minutes of music that go with Mike Flanagan’s film. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but definitely want to after listening to this eerily cool score.