Horror Scores To Die For

The Unsettling Music of Fright Films & TV Shows

BY: Georgia Davis

There is one component of horror films and tv shows that has to be consistently well done: the music. Without a well-crafted score, the horror genre is devoid of suspense and tension. Despondent, unresolving chords echo throughout, while sweet melodies offer glimmers of hope and have the audience waiting for a happy ending — even if they don’t happen. From Psycho to A Quiet Place, here are horror film musical scores to listen to this spooky season:   

Psycho (1960)

Academy Award winner Bernard Herrmann composed the music for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho, and it’s one of the most popular film scores. The string instruments in the iconic shower scene makes the heart beat rapidly. The swirling sounds of orchestral instruments is enough to make anyone check behind the shower curtain before they step in.

The Haunting of Hill House (2018)

One of Netflix’s latest investments is getting a lot of buzz in terms of its plot, but behind The Haunting of Hill House is a score that enhances the tension of every scene. The main title feels like something out of HBO’s Westworld. The melancholy piano voice mirrors the storylines in the show, but the booming, well-timed percussions add a layer of eeriness, causing anyone to think a ghost is about to pop up.

Suspiria (1977)

Dario Argento’s Italian horror film Suspiria has gotten even more attention recently with the release of Luca Guadagnino‘s remake of the 1977 classic. With music from Italian progressive-rock band Goblin, the film’s unsettling score has withstood time. The mix of instruments and synth sounds creates uneasiness, a staple in the giallo film genre.

It Follows (2015)

David Robert Mitchell’s provocative film It Follows may be social commentary on STDs, but it’s the haunting score that brings the horror movie to fruition. Richard Vreeland, who is better known by his stage name Disasterpeace, mixes an immersive soundtrack that makes listeners feel as though they’re being followed. This is the epitome of a successful score.

A Quiet Place (2018)

John Krasinski proved he is more than just Jim from The Office when he directed and acted alongside his wife Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place. But when a film is mostly silent, something needs to set the background for the scenes. Composer Marco Beltrami, who is known for his work on The Hurt Locker, keeps most of the soundtrack at a walking tempo, mimicking the characters’ quiet and cautious steps to avoid the sonic monster.