February 2006 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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The Fog  
Music composed by Graeme Revell
  Available on VarŤse Saabande (302 066 697 2)
Running Time: 39:20
Amazon UK   Amazon US

Whatever happened to Graeme Revell? There was a time when I had high hopes for his development as an inventive, A-list film composer. The big problem was you could never tell which Mr. Revell would turn up when you listened to his latest soundtrack! Some of his work shows real promise in a variety of styles (Childís Play 2 (1990), The Negotiator (1998), Daredevil (1993)), while at other times his music is generic, bland and workman-like (The Saint (1997), Dune (2000), Below (2002)). As I have said on many occasions before now, he is the most inconsistent and frustrating of composers. And here with his score for the remake of John Carpenterís The Fog, we unfortunately get Revell at his most pedestrian and formulaic. If I said that pretty much any wannabe composer could have produced something like this, that may sound harsh. But the music on offer here is so by the numbers, made up of ninety per cent sound effects and atmospheric drones, with only some fleeting tinkling piano to provide any kind of melody.

Now, admittedly Iím a great fan of melodic film scoring. Some may argue that these kind of movies donít really require anything more than soundscape background noise to pump up the suspense and the thrills. But I would just have to disagree. Yes, if thatís the filmmakersí intent and clearly that was the case here, by all means produce something that presses those predictable, oh so familiar buttons. But please donít ask us to listen to it independently, as if it possesses any kind of individual merit. Horror/suspense music doesnít have to be like this. You need look no further than the direct inspiration for this very movie. John Carpenter always managed to give his music a strong melody along with the atmospherics. His score for the original The Fog may not be his best (Halloween (1978) is my own personal favourite), but compared to Revellís dreary, production-line effort, itís nothing short of a joy.† And this only leaves me feeling very sad.

Graeme Revell can only work with what heís offered. But Iím afraid by now he must be getting a reputation for being the man to call by directors and producers who just have no musical imagination or ambition. They appear to only want to produce a product without any pretensions at creating art. Thatís all well and good in the market place if you are simply out to make a profit. But despite some peopleís worst efforts, film-making is an art form. And so is composing film music. I know that Graeme Revell would agree with this. But I guess heís got to make a living.

Mark Hockley


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