November 28, 2008

CD Review: Rest Stop - Don't Look Back, Music Composed by Bear McCreary

If you could only keep your eye on one up and coming composer, I highly recommend that you choose wisely. Everywhere you turn there is another film with another new composer hoping to write the next great score. Well, maybe not everywhere, and they probably just want to do what is best for the film they are working on at the time, but I think you know what I am getting at. Now while you contemplate which composer you would choose, allow me to tell you who you should choose, should you choose to participate. You should choose Bear McCreary, no doubt about it.

Bear has been composing scores since 1998, but it was when he began working on the reinvention of Battlestar Galactica in 2004 that people began to sit and take notice. Also, when I say "people," I specifically mean me. Simply put, the man is taking composing in new, interesting, and highly compelling directions. He integrates all manner of world music, sounds, instruments, voices, and more into music that melds perfectly with whatever material he is working on yet remains highly listenable when taken separately.

bearmccrearyIn addition to Battlestar Galactica the late Elmer Bernstein (Oscar winner for Thoroughly Modern Millie) protege has also worked on Eureka, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Wrong Turn 2: Dead End. The man works hard, creating fascinating work for strong shows as well as projects that may not be worthy of his level of creativity, like Rest Stop: Don't Look Back, but we knew that when he scored the original Rest Stop movie.

Rest Stop: Don't Look Back is very much a retread of the prior film, covering much of the same ground, not answering any f the questions that viewers (again, meaning me) want answered. Anyway, long story short, the brother of the male lead in Rest Stop is home on leave from Iraq. The soldier heads off with his girlfriend and third wheel in tow to search for the missing couple from the first film.

The trio wind up at the same rest stop, menaced by the mysterious man in the yellow truck, and coming face to face with the weird family in the RV. They fight for their lives against these odd characters who may or may not be real. We get glimpses as to how the driver came to e who he is, although the question "why?" still has not been answered. It is a movie with some intriguing ideas and contain a few well-shot sequences but it is not what anyone could truly call a good movie.

That brings me to the work of Bear McCreary. His score far outshines the rest of the film as it presents something unique in sound, creative in execution, and devoid of typical horror movie score moments. That is to say the Rest Stop sequel's score avoids the screeching moments where everyone is expected to jump on cue as well as the typical slow build of quiet strings to a build the suspense up to the screech moment. Don't get me wrong, some of those scores are quite good and effective, but it is the expected path and Bear does not go down the expected path.

The score for this movie is a lush composition built on electric bass, de-tuned banjos, fiddles, and an overall Southern rock in hell atmosphere. It has an off-kilter approach that sounds fresh and keeps you wondering just where he might be going, it is quite unlike anything I have heard before. Listening to this makes me want to hear what he could have done on something like Rob Zombies The Devil's Rejects, basically, take this sort of approach with a good film.

Here is an interesting quote from Bear in an interview with iF Magazine: "They (cliches) were easy to avoid because I loathe contemporary horror scores. When I was hired on for both REST STOP films I made it clear early on that I had no interest in doing the cliched "orchestral-screaming" score, the kind of Ligeti / Penderecki rip-offs that dominate almost every horror film out there. The instrumentation for both REST STOP films is pretty unique, basically a blue-grass band. I knew I had to raise the musical stakes this time around and incorporated a full rhythm section. The sound I was going for was "Lynrd Skynrd Trapped in Hell." I don't know if that's where I ended up, but it was my starting point.

That sounds just about right, don't you think? This is what makes him such an intriguing new voice. He knows just how to approach a project, create something new, and push the boundaries of what is typically accepted for the genres he is working in.

In addition to the score, Rest Stop: Don't Look Back also includes a couple of original songs of Bear's creation. The first song is the opening credits track called "Rattlesnake on the Highway." It is a Southern rock song that is all right, but not as good as later songs here. The other tune from this film is "Jesus, He Forgives You Too," combined with the final track on the CD, "Down Home Salvation," which appeared in the first film, are a couple of traditional bluegrass spirituals with completely demented lyrics, which were a collaboration with the Rev. Bufurd "Buck" Davis. Not great songs, but definitely entertaining to actually listen to.

The album includes a few bonus tracks of music from the first film, including "Down Home Salvation." This comprises a few score cues as well as a couple more songs and includes "All That Remains," as sung by Raya Yarbough, that has also featured on Battlestar Galactica.

Bottomline. Even if you don't like the movie from which it came, I know I'm not, do not let that stop you from diving into this wonderful score. Bear McCreary is a name that I am definitely going to keep on eye on for future work, he is a wonderful young talent with many years of great scoring ahead of him.


Track List:
1. Rattlesnake on the Highway 4:25
music and lyrics by Bear McCreary
performed by Brendan McCreary
2. Roadside Assistance 1:26
3. Main Title 0:43
4. Tom and Marilyn 4:07
5. Cleansing the Sinner 1:52
6. Jesus, He Forgives You Too 3:10
music and lyrics by Bear McCreary
performed by the Rev. Buford “Buck” Davis
and His Minstrel Singers
7. Creepy Gas Station 3:45
8. Marilyn’s Blues 3:27
9. On The Bus 2:30
10. Nicole’s Ghost 2:21
11. Powertools 3:43
12. Tom to the Rescue 2:11
13. The Last Stand 5:05
14. The Driver Gets Marilyn 1:46

Bonus tracks from Rest Stop:
15. All That Remains 4:18
music and lyrics by Bear McCreary
performed by Raya Yarbrough
16. Lonely Woman 3:47
music and lyrics by Bear McCreary
performed by Brendan McCreary
17. Trapped 4:25
18. Gravely Mistaken Identity 3:06
19. Nicole Fights Back 2:20
20. Down Home Salvation 5:39
music and lyrics by Bear McCreary
performed by the Rev. Buford “Buck” Davis
and His Minstrel Singers


Post a Comment