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Soundtrack Review

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The Djinn
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


Composer: Matthew James
Label: MovieScore Media
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 21 May 2021

Moviescore Media releases the film soundtrack to The Djinn, by Matthew James. In the movie, written and directed by David Cherbonier and Justin Powell, Dylan Jabobs is a mute boy who becomes trapped in his apartment with a sinister monster when he wishes for his heart’s desire and gets more than he bargained for. It’s described as a coming-of-age story. Composer Matthew James was raised in Chicago, and has been working in Los Angeles since 2017. He began as an assistant to composer Kurt Farquhar, contributing to the scores of Being Mary Jane, The Quad, Stitchers, and the superhero series Black Lightning. For this one he pays homage to the synthesiser era of the 1980s – which is when the story is set – but leaves plenty of room for childhood moments of innocence, reflection, mourning and sheer terror...

Track Listing: 'Fall That Same Year (Dylan’s Theme)', 'Mom?', 'Artifacts Required', 'Book of Shadows and The Spirit of Fire', 'On the Radio B-Side', 'The Djinn Awakens', 'It’s a Dream', 'Appearance and Transformation', 'Shapeshifting', 'Call Dad', 'Night Terror', 'Guardian of the Shadow Realm', 'Trapped', 'Stroke of Midnight', 'Is It Over?', 'The Toll', 'Could I have Stopped It?', 'Showdown', and 'The End'.

There are 19 tracks here and, in my opinion, that’s too many for one standard-length film score. It means that the whole thing comes across as bitty and disjointed – with some examples being merely noises or ambient sounds – and we are denied the privilege of a more-lengthy and coherent suite, which highlights more the abilities of the composer and how these shorter pieces might come together as a digestible whole. I’m not saying this release is without merit; far from it. When you pick clean the bones you discover some little gems and a host of horror film characteristic atmospheres. For example, the opening track has a fantasy dreamlike quality, with an Electronica tune grounded in rumbling bass. The main theme fades out leaving the underlying chord structure. Quite inventive.

The overall use of electronic music and sound effects proves effective in this instance. The inherent versatility of the artform results in such diverse output as sinister and eerie layered building of suspense, or Kraftwerk/Jean-Michel Jarre-type synthesiser music with an inherent orchestral melody. James shows his proficiency at creating dramatic aural cadences, with voice samples, distant chanting and background whispers, strange radio waves, discordant effects and slamming, metal chimes or bottle chinking, and a sense of dark menace. There is also a fine understanding of when there is a need for a pause for reflection, melancholy or tentative warm touches, and when a marching or slamming should build to an all-out horror crescendo. 'Guardian of the Shadow Realm' has a sense of movement and the clicking of time. It comes across like the theme to a car travelling through the night.

Even the great John Carpenter’s style is emulated here with a sense of claustrophobia, a creeping malaise, a quickening heartbeat bass theme and the occasional sense of rushing. Some tracks employ the same or similar styles, but overall this is an enjoyable score let down only by abruptly cut-off pieces and a lack of connectivity.


Ty Power

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