Nosferatu // Pre-Rock Records
Nosferatu (appropriately subtitled ‘A Symphony of Horror’) is perhaps the defining horror film of the silent era, and the new score written for it by Saskatoon band Shooting Guns integrates seamlessly with the source material while adding it’s own twists and turns to the proceedings. The band has some past experience working in film (check out the OST for Wolf Cop and Another Wolf Cop), and it really shows here; in silent movies, the music has a much larger role communicating the plot and emotional beats, and they nail a pretty unrelenting and haunting tone throughout the 90 minutes and change runtime. The score was all recorded live at the Roxy Theatre in Saskatoon, and as a result, the recording sounds absolutely huge. It’s fitting, as live accompaniment is more faithful to how an audience would have watched Nosferatu in it’s own time, but the band has made a few choices that update the viewing experience in a delightfully anachronistic way: long drones that connect between scenes, for example, instead of a more hectic (and traditional) “Looney Tunes” style of scoring that moves between different musical ideas at a breakneck speed. This allows the band to take their time building the sound, so that when we finally see the vampiric Count Orlok in his true form (around 30 minutes in), the tension is so high that the addition of some percussion and an increase in tempo count as truly horrifying developments. It can’t be overstated how difficult it is to create a companion piece to a film that is so iconic without diluting or destroying what makes it work in the first place, but Shooting Guns have done a terrific job preserving the dark romanticism of the original while adding paralyzing and evocative musical elements that are completely their own. A symphony of horror indeed.
- Sean Newton