With less than a decade in the business German composer Ramin Djawadi scored his first Grammy nomination last year with his highly acclaimed Iron Man score. Before that Djawadi had spent a good deal of time working, but on bigger projects (Batman Begins, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, The Island) he tended to be working as part of the music department or as “additional music.” With the musical reins of a massive blockbuster like Iron Man handed over to him, Djawadi took the opportunity to prove himself to a larger audience. And when writer/director David S. Goyer had the chance to choose a composer for his newest horror film, The Unborn, he knew just where to turn for a darkly gripping score, as he gave a younger Djawadi a big start with Blade: Trinity several years ago.
And while Djawadi’s work on The Unborn isn’t quite as inspired as his work on Iron Man (but then, the horror genre in general doesn’t grant its composers as much leeway as most genres), there’s still plenty to like here. Djawadi provides plenty of quietly creeping atmosphere throughout the score, with wind whistling eerily in the background. It isn’t until the seventh track (the fast-paced “Possessed”) that Djawadi really cuts loose with the action part of the score, as the music picks up leaps and bounds beyond the quiet groundwork laid in the first six tracks. But Djawadi isn’t comfortable leaving the score as a simple horror soundtrack, with the standardly creepy lead-ins building up to jolts from violins and quickly beating drums. In fact, portions of the score, such as the driven “Breakin Mirrors” and the second half of the repetitious drum-laced “The Doorway’s Open,” get the album sounding almost like a spy thriller atÂ times. There’s a good deal of scratchy strings going on here as well – but who says Hans Zimmer (a Djawadi mentor) and James Newton Howard have a copyright on that effect after The Dark Knight?
The score work here is indeed interesting, but interesting doesn’t necessarily mean inspired. The music for The Unborn has its moments (the breakneck speed with which the track “Bugs” opens and continues with is impressive and unexpected), but it also has its drawbacks: there’s not much of a throughline for listeners to hang on to – I couldn’t find a common theme that spoke to a given character or that belied a deeper sense of the movie’s plotline. Djawadi is clearly a talented composer and earned his Grammy nod for Iron Man, but The Unborn isn’t the best showcase of his talents.
Zach Says: Give It A Listen
Music Rating system – Get It, Give It A Listen, Forget It
To purchase the soundtrack for The Unborn (out February 24th), visit Amazon