I was really looking forward to hearing what Jeff Dana would do with the opportunity of scoring a large scale horror movie. I am a great admirer of his work on the sorely underrated 'O' and recognise Dana as having undeniable talent. However, the reality on Resident Evil is that he somehow gets lost between his own artistic sensibilities and delivering what the producers ask of him and we get left with something that never quite satisfies, despite covering all of the expected bases.
The opening cue, 'My Name is Alice', is all bluff, bluster and sound effects and passes by without really registering, while 'Alice Battles the Nemesis' is a fast paced percussion and bass piece that lacks any meaningful theme and therefore never becoming involving. On an incidental note, Paul W. S. Anderson is credited as director in the sleeve notes, despite the fact that he actually wrote and produced this production (he did however direct the first Resident Evil film), but more interesting is Anderson's assertion that Dana at times seemed to be "channelling" John Carpenter in his score and quotes the music from Halloween and Escape From New York as being among his own personal favourites. Well, I am also a huge fan of those scores and although 'Ashford's Plan' ends briefly with the first hint of something Carpenteresque, this influence is barely heard again, reappearing only in 'The Last Transport' towards the end of the CD. Other tracks like 'Umbrella is Watching' have a more epic feel with a combination of strings and electronics that work quite well and 'The Nemesis is Awakened' features an interesting combination of big and brash and more understated melody. Tracks like 'Captured by Umbrella' reminded me a little of some of Danny Elfman's action/suspense writing (The Hulk for instance) and that can only be a good thing, although 'Dogs in the Kitchen' is in more stock vein with lots of rhythm and sound effects to turn up the tension. A frustrating aspect of the score in purely musical terms is that it rarely sustains a thematic idea ('Searching for Alice' is one good example). The music develops in fits and starts (obviously a requirement of the cinematic narrative), but this makes it a somewhat awkward listening experience, although repeat plays gradually reveal the structure to be a little more accessible than it at first appears.
This is a busy, blustery score with scattered moments of interest but it sadly lacks true invention, something I had hoped might be more evident in the work of this particular composer. Don't get me wrong, as scores of this type go Jeff Dana's foray is not bad at all. The truth is I just hoped for a good deal more.