The Strangers: Prey at Night is a sequel to the 2008 American horror movie The Strangers, both of which were written by Bryan Bertino. The film tells the story of a family on a road trip to visit relatives that quickly turns into a nightmare following a stop at a secluded mobile home park.
The soundtrack was composed by Adrian Johnston, who hitherto has written scores primarily to period dramas (Jude, Brideshead Revisited, and Capturing Mary - for which he was awarded a BAFTA in 2008) and this album represents his first flirtation with the horror movie genre.
The score does a great job of creating an uneasy and uncomfortable atmosphere as the composer's attempts to audibly portray the horror of a home invasion/violent assault. Most tracks forgo the traditional film score melody and structure to create a soundscape that exudes a sense of dread and chaos.
A track can change from eerie strings and solemn piano sections to harsh industrial beats and sub-bass drops in a heartbeat. To add to the non-linear nature of the score, several ‘80s pop and ballad classics (Kim Wilde, Bonnie Tyler…) are sprinkled throughout the soundtrack - a move that only adds to its unsettling and chaotic nature.
While the main theme (reminiscent of John Carpenter’s work on the score to The Fog) is one of only a few, for want of a better phrase, conventional compositions on the soundtrack, its memorable motif does reappear in several guises throughout.
The score’s discordant nature results in an album, that in isolation, some might find hard to enjoy or digest. While much of the soundtrack serves to create an abrasive backdrop to the violence on the screen, there are several tracks that break from this formula; The ‘80s synth/electronic-tinged Inferno and subdued, reserved piano licks of Deliverance are a welcome change of pace and tone.
Adrian Johnston has created a disturbing and dense soundscape that seeks to capture the horror and violence of the subject material that will not be to everyone’s liking or taste. Therefore, if you are looking for a score that is unnerving and filled with a sense of dread then look no further. However, for those looking for hooks and hummable melodies then enter with caution.
While it is the composer’s first venture into the horror genre I hope it isn't his last.
THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT / COMPOSER: ADRIAN JOHNSTON / LABEL: VARÈSE SARABANDE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW