The Haunted House Cue (Scoring Amhurst)

Scoring “Amhurst” has been an exciting experience, because I can feel the score growing every week. It’s kind of taken on a life of its own, and has made a 180 degree turn from the first set of cues I wrote (at least in my opinion). When I started the first reel (a 20 minute section in the middle of the film), I had a general idea of where I wanted to go with the score. After a 4 hour show-and-tell (a term used to describe a meeting where the composer sits down with the creative Powers That Be for the film and plays back new cues, and gets feedback and changes) with Director Rocky Costanzo, I realized that Rocky wanted to go in a darker direction, and give the film a horror vibe. It’s essentially a ghost story, but it’s a scary ghost story. Rocky wanted to go in more of a “Halloween” direction with the music, so I eliminated the melody in the violin and minimized the use of violas and moved everything to the celli and double bass, and suddenly the score began to take shape. 

I recently scored a scene where the family gets an unseen late night visit, and Rebecca has a vision. The scene is an intense 8 minutes of suspense, and I created a mood with the music that I think enhances the scene. Although the action onscreen and script do a wonderful job at relating the story, I used a choir (mens and womens) to help the audience differentiate between the different struggles going on in the film, both good and bad. There’s a hidden secret within the walls of the Cabot house, and there are two sides trying to tell their story. Finding a subtle way to voice them musically is the challenge, and I think that the score is presenting itself to me as I watch and re-watch the film. In Part 2 of Scoring Amhurst, I’ll try and upload some samples from the score.