Music Composed and Conducted by: Guy Farley
Movie Genre: Horror
Movie Release: 2009
Soundtrack Release: 2009
Label: MovieScore Media

“Feel the edge of the knife,
by listening to Guy Farley’s thrilling music!”

Emma, a successful Wall Street trader moves to Britain with her husband. Their residence is an old villa in the countryside. But the idyllic conditions will turn into a nightmare, when Emma is starting to feel that something is wrong with her new house, a place full of hidden deadly secrets. There are moments where she witnesses visions from the house’s past, with bloody images from murder scenes. Or do these frightful images foretell the future? Are the visions a figment of her imagination?

“Knife Edge” (2009) is another addition to the long list of horror films which put a house, presumed to be haunted (?), to the center of their plot. An old, impressive and vast residence nearby a forest, is really the ideal natural place for a horror movie of this type. But, if the music is not seriously and thoroughly crafted, the advantage of the exceptional natural scenery can be useless. That’s because in a horror picture, music is the most essential factor for the thrill and the chills of the viewer. The music is playing a game with the viewer’s  psychology. If carefully used, the music can fool, confuse, and ultimately frighten the viewer of the movie. It is the number one controlling factor for the atmosphere of the film and in the case of “Knife Edge”, the score achieves all the goals it sets from the very beginning.

The score is composed by Guy Farley, who conducts the renowned City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. That’s the first key step in order to take the music seriously: the notes from the score sheets are transmuted into orchestral sound. Pay attention to the last two words: orchestral sound! Not a shouting synthetic/electronic score, which is desperately trying to convince everyone that it’s meant to be the score of a horror movie. Examples of such kind of horror music, nowadays? Numerous! And, surprisingly, from talented composers! However, unfortunately, there are many directors who want and approve such king of music in their movies. That’s a sad reality. Horror movies, along with other types of movies, tend to attract music without character, without a targeting, without an aiming, without a substantial role. Music has some purpose to fulfill. Some directors do forget that! Even more than composers, directors sometimes seem to ignore the powerful impact of the right kind of music in cinema and more so the elementary rules about music’s usage in a movie. It is always a matter of perception and aesthetics. In contrast, composer Guy Farley infused personality to “Knife Edge” and the pleasant outcome in this particular case is that the main crew members of the production really appreciated his approach and took the right decisions. A good score is always the result of a right decision, made by the director or the producer.

The film’s curtain opens with a theme indicating anxiety and fear combined. It’s a musical theme that highlights the agonizing dimension of the film. The main titles begin and simultaneously starts a short version of this theme, which can be found in “Title Theme” (#1). The perfect introduction that directly pulls the viewer into the uncertain musical world of the film. This theme returns in the course of the movie at key plot points and it will be extended to its full version in “Knife Edge Theme” (#23). It is a tribute to composer Bernard Herrmann, the master of film music suspense, renowned for the inspired and classic scores for the movies of director Alfred Hitchcock.

However, in a musical ensemble full of suspense, horror and repulsion, a sweet and tender break is necessary in order to make things more interesting and varied. That’s the philosophy of a legendary composer, one of the greatest ever in the history of cinema. It’s hard to find music for a horror film composed by Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004), which wasn’t melodically relieved in some way. Leading example of this musical concept is the Academy Award Winning score for the “The Omen” (1976). Guy Farley adopts this option to attribute the moments of family happiness, as Emma and her husband are driving to the villa on the British countryside. The special theme of happiness heard in “England” (#2) refers to the melodic timbre of composer John Barry and it’s quite beautiful.

Emma is trying to acclimate after her arrival to the villa with music which is located in “The House” (#3). She wanders around, in a house full of corridors and rooms with hidden secrets. The music helps the viewer to familiarize with the vast residence, a viewer who, while watching the movie, is trying to decode the messages conveyed by the music, with a melodic yet cold style, to the greater part of the track. And then comes the first musical shock: the track “Raven Attack” (#4) starts with orchestral outbursts, a sign of horror without any doubt. One by one, images from murder scenes suddenly jump before our eyes. Murder scenes that have been or will be? A difficult question to answer. Combined with the displayed music, the viewer is startled. But they will continue to jump on the screen, until the mystery is solved.

Horror’s return is stunning in “The Knife” (#16), when a murder weapon is found, indicated by the movie’s title. The tension escalates and the orchestra gives its best to make the projected scenes of significant importance. The chase in the house and on the terrace is accompanied with musical moments of intense activity, where the orchestra embodies the despair of the heroine in her attempt to escape from the murder weapon previously discovered. In an attempt to stay alive, she is forced to hang from the external walls of the villa, while the music is creating moments of great suspense, as the strings tend to imitate the sound effect of a knife blade slicing through the air in “Roof Chase” (#20).

Composing the music of “Knife Edge”, Guy Farley essentially attempted to pay a tribute to the great maestros of film music suspense, Jerry Goldsmith and Bernard Herrmann. His score works as a reminder of how remarkable and noteworthy can a horror score be. Given the circumstances, nowadays, this is by no means something insignificant. Every composer who wants, is able and allowed to write such a king of horror score, deserves every possible opportunity to do so. The misfortune is that such opportunities offered today are a rare thing. And who are responsible for this? Directors and producers! In the end, Guy Farley proved very capable in serving the musical needs of this particular horror film, making sure to build on the glorious musical heritage on one hand, and stating his own mature mark on the genre on the other.

Track List:

01. Title Theme (0:57)
02. England (2:10)
03. The House (3:01)
04. Raven Attack (2:37)
05. Collapsed (1:00)
06. A Kiss (1:49)
07. The Tree (2:04)
08. Sisters (0:56)
09. Business Problems (1:24)
10. Emma and Pollock (1:41)
11. Drug Nightmare (1:10)
12. It’s Turning (1:46)
13. The Hidden Room (1:35)
14. Old Photos (1:14)
15. The Nursery (1:43)
16. The Knife (2:24)
17. Chase (1:03)
18. The Syringe (0:44)
19. Going Mad (1:36)
20. Roof Chase (3:39)
21. Together (1:16)
22. Lovers (1:43)
23. Knife Edge Theme (1:33)

Total Time: 38:00

The tracks that stand out are noted with bold letters

Score Rating
(as it is heard in the movie): * * * 1/2

Score Rating
(as a standalone musical hearing
): * * * 1/2

 

Advertisements