CLOWNFACE (Hans Michael Anselmo Hess)
Clownface is an independent low budget slasher movie about some kind of weird mask-wearing psychopath called Clownface. The film itself is not the best I’ve ever seen in the genre but far from the worst eiter. Let’s face it, the actors are not very convincing, despite some exceptions like Zoe, one of the main characters for example and the story has a few plot holes here and there but it still is worth watching, albeit for its rather surprising end. I won’t tell the whole story of the movie, because the subject of my review is Hess’s music which is the best element of this movie.
Let me start by saying that I already was surprised by this composer’s first score, Carnival of Sorrows. As you might have read in my review I quite liked it but the only thing that bothered me was the ‘plastic’ sound, I missed some real instruments. Perhaps, Hess did listen to my opinion. This score sounds a lot more real than its predecessor thanks to the use of real instruments instead of keyboards and synths only. Not that it’s a symphonic and without any electronic sounds, not at all. It is more a successful combination of both worlds. And that’s what makes this score so great. It’s got all it needs to be a good score: like in ‘CARNIVAL OF SORROWS’, there is a strong thematic approach, some real instruments in combination with keyboards & synths, variation, terrifying creepy sounds and effects which are a must in a horror movie score.
The overall mood of this soundtrack is very dark, tenebrous, aggressive but still with some moments of rest to give the opportunity to the listeners to take a deep breath before diving again in the Clownface’s world of madness.
After a short dark introduction ‘’He’s Coming’’ we get our first theme, ‘‘Zoe’s Theme’’ followed by ‘Clownface’s Theme’. Later on, we even get a 3rd one, ‘’Owen’s Theme’’. The first two themes couldn’t be more different. ‘Zoe’s theme’ is beautifully played by the composer himself on classical guitar and is some sort of intimate melody, it stays in your head for a while when you hear it for the first time. It gets back in several other tracks like: “Zoe & Rick”, “Those Eyes” and “You Kept Me Alive”.
“Clownface’s theme” is much more creepy and frightening ofcourse. It even reminds me a tiny bit of those old classic monster movies: heavy, dark, bombastic, in a dark abyss of madness. This theme also gets back and even more frequently than “Zoe’s Theme” and in a bunch of very different variations. There’s even a music box version in “Pretty Face”, some hints of it in “Encounter”. In fact our main character’s theme is all over the album, if you listen carefully though. If you want to hear him in full glory, you should listen to rightaway to “Party Massacre”. It’s truly creepy. The theme gets back and it’s a nice long track with weird effects, banging orchestral hits and Hess did some experimentation with traditional instruments and that’s really something I’m very keen of, when you hear some kind of instrument without having a clue which instrument has been used to get that sound. You could get really surprised what you can get out of a normal piano or traditional violin, etc...
“Owen’s Theme” on the other hand doesn’t get as much attention, but the same goes for the character. He’s only a small piece of the story, but nevertheless pretty important. It starts with soft, mysterious piano notes accompanied by woodwinds in the background. It sounds pretty mysterious and you really don’t know what to expect yet. It’s also a bit more simple than both other themes, which are really well elaborated.
There is also non-thematic material that sounds truly terrifying and creepy, like some chilling sound effects, a distorted piano, a lot of low strings, heavy banging percussion, and so on. Enough material to keep the listener focused.
So, to conclude this review:
Clownface is one hell of a trip (almost litteraly) and I mean it in a good way, obviously! It has everything such a movie should have. Is it easy to listen? Hell no! And it shouldn’t be! As no other horror movie should be easy to listen either. It is frightening, at moments even terrifying, it creeps under your skin and drags you into a world of madness. The world of Clownface!
Thank you Hans for this blood-curdling score!
A well deserved 85/100!