The Last House On The LeftIn 1972 legendary horror director Wes Craven created a movie based on Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring that so disturbed American audiences that the movie’s tag line was “To avoid fainting, keep repeating ‘It’s only a movie…It’s only a movie…'” The original The Last House on the Left, with it’s harrowing scenes of almost-too-realistic violence shot into public consciousness and established Craven’s career. Over three decades later, with Hollywood remakes of nearly every horror movie to grace the silver screen appearing (including Craven’s own The Hills Have Eyes and Nightmare on Elm Street), a remake of The Last House on the Left is hitting theatres, and composer John Murphy’s score – released by La-La-Land Records – is hitting stores.

Murphy (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, 28 Days Later, Snatch) has provided a much more quiet and emotional score than most composers create for movies of this ilk. In tracks like “Dead in the Water” and “Candles” Murphy has reflective strings playing out peacefully, though a quiet, haunting hum in the backgronud betrays the gravity of the piece.  Murphy uses his orchestra well – allowing his musicians to tell a story. At times during the constantly-shifting “In the Woods” it almost begins to sound as if the instruments themselves are screaming for help. The shifts in tone – from pleading to quiet to menacing – are impressive and make for good horror fare.

But sometimes Murphy gets a bit too carried away with atmosphere, especially towards the end of the album. The atmosphere-laden “Going to the Guest House” begins too feel a bit like continuous, ear-piercing buzzing, a feeling that carries over into the subsequent “Looking For Krug.” The sentiment of violence and danger coming to the forefront is palpable here, but sometimes atonal buzzing is just that – atonal buzzing. Earlier in the album, Murphy accomplishes much more with long, dirgeful strokes (such as in the short “Killing Paige”) than he does with these protracted, repetitious tracks.

Though the score for the original Last House -  a rawer batch of music composed and performed by actor David Hess, who played the role of the psychopathic Krug in the film – will always have a special place in my heart, John Murphy’s score manages to hold its own more often than not, and that’s saying something. Though his quiet moments of reflection are better than the action scenes, Murphy has delivered a more than passable score to a critically-panned remake of a horror masterpiece.

Zach’s Rating: 7 (out of 10)

To purchase the score for The Last House on the Left, visit Amazon

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