Music By John Debney
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1237
20 Tracks/Disc Time: 62:12 Grade: B–
The horror genre has had more than its fair share of memorable films like Alien, Predator, An American Werewolf In London, The Thing and many many more to speak of. What the film, The Relic has in common with all of the ones I’ve mentioned is that they all feature a unseen or transmutating villain along with a rather claustrophobic, dark or isolated setting. The film is based on the novel by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child which revolves around or I should say starts with a scientist named John Whitney, who travels to Brazil doing some research the Zinzara tribe who literally made a pact with the dark underlord himself to rid themselves of all of their enemies only to have the son of darkness unleashed on them. Whitney then finds the myth too terrifying real after being fed a brew along with leaves contaminated with viruses that ultimately leads him to mutate into the Kathoga (another grand work of the late special effects creator Stan Winston) and ultimately arrive at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago (filling in for New York’s Museum of Natural History which was the novel took place) which is opening a Superstitions Wing filled with weird statutes and relics. Soon a bunch of gruesome murders take place after hours and soon Lt. Vincent D’Agosta (Tom Sizemore) starts to find that all have one thing in common: that whoever had killed those people is feeding off the human brain to satisfy its hunger. Soon, D’Agosta discovers along with the museum’s evolutionary biologist Dr. Margo Green (Penelope Ann Miller) and the kindly Dr. Albert Frock (James Whitmore) figure out that it is the Kathoga that’s been unleashed in the museum. Green and D’Agosta have to find a way to destroy it before it escapes and causes havoc to the rest of the city.
The film after being pushed back from it’s original 1996 Summer schedule by Paramount was finally unvailed in January 1997 and received positive reviews. When it came to the film’s musical score however, there definitely was no delay in who director Peter Hyams wanted to underscore this creepy thriller. After writing an exhilarting and rousing action score for Hyams’ action-thriller, Sudden Death, John Debney was chosen to write a score that basically scared the heck out of those watching the film. Debney, has become a master of this genre in his own way and this score was the stepping stone for other horror scores like I Know What You Did Last Summer, End of Days and Dream House. This score is an accomplished work by Debney and very very strong in its thematic assault on the senses. “The Ritual” opens the album immediately setting the score’s mood with rumbling percussion, a repeating flute motif and shreking and plucking strings which Debney opens the film to a foreboding of the rest of the film to come.
The majority of the score, Debney has to rely on what he can’t see in when the Kathoga will appear and leading up to its full complete appearance in the latter half of hte film and provides some fine suspense material with tracks such as “Grim Discovery”, “Something In The Stairwell”, “Exhibit Preview”, “Dark Signs / The Lair / Just A Maniac” and “The Scent / Contact / Margo Lost”, the latter track beginning Debney’s ascent into the furious and fast paced action that dominates the last half hour of the film mixing in suspense with a some terrific full out action. Starting with “Shut It Down / Deadly Shadow / Leftovers / Guided Tour / Lights Out”, Debney masterfully see saws back and fourth between the shriking strings to a brass assault that he really maxs out to fruition and continues with “Torches / The Devil’s Desserts”, “Swatted”, a terrific action filled track, “Tunnels” and the lengthy final battle track, “Striking Back / Face To Face”, where Debney just finally unleashes his full musical arsenal to the hilt and doesn’t take his foot off the gas petal. “End Credits” reprises the films’ opening title sequence along with score’s main themes for a satisfactory conclusion.
La-La Land’s album is a long time in coming after an aborted release after the film’s delayed release only produced a rare composer promo CD that featured a healthy amount of what would’ve been material for a soundtrack album and finally, Debney’s score finally sees the light of day. The one really minor quibble I do have with score is that it is a little repetitive and it would’ve been nice for Debney to continue that great opening motif even further into the score, it would’ve made it even more memorable in my view. As is, it a very strong score and it does pay a respectful homage to the genre for which it was unleashed in. Recommended.