If there’s anyone who has a certain talent for scoring modern horror films, it’s Joseph Bishara. The man consistently shows a great sense of knowing where to place the jump-scare cues at times where they’re the most startling and unpredictable, and even then he enhances the sheer shock of these sudden and abrupt cues by piling on the layers of distorted clatter so it really lunges out at listeners and viewers of the films he’s scoring. With the found footage craze at an all-time high in popularity, many modern horror films have taken advantage of deathly silence to achieve the effect of discomfort, and the horror films that do have an original score usually don’t boast much on a soundtrack. Either the ambient music will be kept in and the jump-scare cue music excluded, or the other way around. Bishara on the other hand, showcases on his original score for The Conjuring
that he has the ability to make a collection of solely his music for the film just as frightening as the film without the aid of visuals.
Bishara’s score benefits from his inclusion of the scare cues throughout his compositions, as it’s very difficult to pinpoint when they’re coming, or even expect them to appear in the first place while listening casually. This makes listening to the The Conjuring
an intense and more attention-capturing experience than even most regular soundtrack albums in general. Bishara can warp white noise to be vicious and foreboding, and manipulates the droning negative space around the track’s harsh shrieking mid-sections into uneasy and suffocating forms. He also toys around with the idea of distance in the compositions on The Conjuring
, as tracks will either approach listeners from afar, surround and engulf them, or remain disturbingly complacent until they jarringly shift into a more violent tone.
To say the least, Bishara plays with different concepts of what makes music terrifying in the context of the film, and just as scary when listened to stand-alone. Some tracks will be quieter than others; baiting listeners into listening more carefully and closely before they are ambushed with a layered assault of grindingly disjointed noise at a breathlessly unexpected time. Most of the compositions suit the tone of the film and feel like a lengthy process of conjuring, as all the sounds lethargically gather together and collect into a pool of swirling anxiety before Bishara keeps listeners guessing by either striking them with a climactic jump scare, or sometimes just simply leaving them waiting for it, and its inconsistencies like that that maintains the score's shroud of uncertainty. Sometimes Bishara will start a shorter track off in the middle of a frantic and pounding cue, and then keep in as much as 10 seconds of silence within the track to keep listeners in a distraught state before the track goes for the throat once again.
All in all, The Conjuring
succeeds because of obscure and offbeat composition structures that make it lethal and unnerving, and above all, something that musical albums in general rarely are: an unsettling and at times terrifying collection of tracks, which is everything a horror film soundtrack should be.