Okay, so we’re not really sure when or if the world will get back to normal. At this moment we’re in a holding pattern of wait, isolate, and wear masks and gloves if you’ve gotta be around a bunch of people. My wife was downstairs making masks(well, a mask) for grocery day. A mask. This is where we’re at in the world, so I guess we’ll just roll with it until it’s safe to stick our heads out of our quarantine holes.
I spend a lot of time talking about new releases on here. It’s why I started this site in the first place going on 9 years ago. It has transformed into a lot of different things since then, but record reviews are my first love. Well, while there’s still records being made and released here and there it’s not like before. It’s quieter and less promoted nowadays. So in order to make up for lack of reviews of new releases I’m looking at new ways of spreading musical love. Today I’m introducing my new film score series, What’s The Score?
I’m going to pull a score out of my collection and talk a little about it and what it means to me. Talk about what it’s scoring, the composer, the music, etc…You get the gist. Today’s first in the series is Cristobal Tapia de Veer’s excellent score to The Girl With All The Gifts.
Every once in a while a composer taps into a new energy. Something quite unique and one-of-a-kind. It makes a film of reasonable quality amplified and quite next level. Mica Levi is one of those composers. Johann Johannsson was another. Howard Shore, Philip Glass, and Jerry Goldsmith were others that exuded a certain singularity in their work when they emerged. Another is the man behind the score to The Girl With All The Gifts.
I remember watching The Girl With All The Gifts back in 2017. I really liked the film; great cast, well shot, and an interesting take on the whole zombie apocalypse story. I knew that it was based on a book, but had not delved into the literary world of Mike Carey. Carey wrote the screenplay, but changed a few things. The ending of both the book and film are the same.
What’s it about you say? It’s the future and humanity was ravaged by a fungal disease. It turns people into “hungries”, which are fast, mindless flesh eaters. Think Garland’s rage virus in 28 Days Later, but messier. A second generation after the initial breakout shows signs of humanity, with the children of the disease being able to think, talk, and converse. The trick is that the living, not-infected adults must wear a gel to mask their scent or the children give into their urge to eat flesh. On a military base a group of doctors and soldiers are trying to educate some of these second generation kids. There’s a breach of the base and everyone goes mad, so a teacher, a scientist, a couple soldiers and one of the kids called Melanie escape with their lives.
The film is these adults coming to terms with a world that will surely be run by human/hungry hybrids and the unique talents of the child Melanie. It’s a thoughtful story, and the score by Cristobal Tapia de Veer, or Cristo, goes a long way to giving the film a beating heart.
Listening to the score you’re really transported into the world of hungries and desperate adults trying to survive. While there’s plenty of suspense and horror going on in the film, Cristo’s score takes a completely different path. There is some traditional orchestral pieces, but a lot of the repeating motifs almost sound like voices. Mournful, alien melodies appear like sad choruses from the past or future that lead us into the world of Melanie, Helen, and the flesh-hungry hungries. I’m reminded of both Johann Johannsson and Mica Levi here, with the former’s Arrival and the latter’s Under The Skin as touchstones. But Cristo does something wholly unique here, by taking both his work on the UK shows Utopia and Humans and his unique perspective in percussion composition and turning it into something wholly original and beautiful.
Cristobal Tapia de Veer was Chilean-born but moved to Canada with his mother during a military coup as a child. He’s worked in both the pop music world, as well classical music. Since The Girl With All The Gifts Cristo has done work for shows like Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams, Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, and is currently scoring the Amazon Prime original series Hunters.
If you haven’t seen The Girl With All The Gifts I highly recommend the film. It’s a unique take on a well worn concept. It’s the kind of zombie film that even non-fans of the genre can appreciate and find things to love in it. But even if the idea doesn’t spark any interest, you should give the score a listen. It’s a stunning piece of modern classical music.