Produced by LA singer/songwriter Lawrence Rothman, the all-original soundtrack for the Floria Sigismondi-directed film, The Turning – a 1990s take on Henry James’ classic 1890s horror novella, The Turn of the Screw – features a pretty awe-inspiring list of names including, Courtney Love, Mitski, Soccer Mommy, Kali Uchis, Vagabon, Girl in Red, Kim Gordon, The Aubreys (Finn Wolfhard’s new band, who stars in the new film) and more, and embodies the notion of raw feelings being worn clearly on a sleeve.
The horror movie is set in the ‘90s and as such carries a purposeful reflection of the time period in its sound track, beginning with Courtney Love’s ‘Mother’. The haunting track, paired with a stalwart artist inextricably linked to the time period, is reimagined as a matriarch and figure-head to the following 18 tracks.
Next is the foreboding, guitar-led, grunge-tinged ‘Cop Car’ by Mitski, anchoring a pivotal scene of the film – during which protagonist Kate’s mind begins to unravel in her car – and bringing forth a much-needed cinematic element to the soundtrack, while ‘Getting Better (Otherwise)’ from The Aubreys subverts the narrative with its upbeat soundscape and a message of changing outlooks on life.
The quiet stylings of Lawrence Rothman featuring Pale Waves on ‘SkindeepSkyhighHeartwide’ and Empress Of’s surreal vocals on ‘Call Me’ are two back-to-back highlights with an oddly soothing effect – an unexpected yet welcome surprise on a horror movie OST.
With similar effect Alice Glass delivers ‘Sleep It Off’, a melodic standout juxtaposed against the more upbeat sonics of Lawrence Rothman feat. MUNA’s ‘Judas Kiss’ and Kali Uchis’ ‘The Turn’. In contrast Soccer Mommy’s ‘Feed’ is everything you’d expect from the genre with its trippy, goose bump-inducing instrumentals and slow-burn vocals.
With the first half of the soundtrack focussing on lighter moods and musical touches including Vagabon’s ‘The Wild’ and Girl in Red’s ‘kate’s not here’, the tail-end of the project is far more rock heavy. An unshakeable sense of anxiety sets in as the booming soundscapes of tracks such as ‘Ouroboros’ from Dani Miller, electro-tinged ‘I Don’t Know’ from Alison Mosshart and ‘ Take No Prisoners’ from Living Things featuring Sunflower Bean take over. Lawrence Rothman makes good use of instrumentals to zero in on the shift in the mood as the overwhelming beats of final track ‘Crust’ usher in the climax. Rothman uses this percussion-focused rendition of ‘Crust’ as a clever contrast; with the track appearing earlier in the track list as ‘Crust (neverreallyknewyou)’ with a far lighter flow and tone.
While an interesting listen, the sound track’s downfall lies in the excessive length – only 11 of the tracks appearing in the film – with certain songs like Cherry Glazerr’s ‘Womb’ and Warpaint’s ‘The Brakes’ making skippable appearances. But despite dragging at points, and some tracks merging into one another, ‘The Turning’ OST explores a broad range of genres, with jolts of much-appreciated creativity that makes it well worth a listen.
Words: Malvika Padin
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