The Rite Composed by Alex Heffes
Green Streets Ent. (2011)
Soundclips below from AmazonMP3
focuses on the subtext rather than the obvious, and the result is a
satisfying and even memorable production that supports the film
perfectly and offers listeners and engaging and well-rounded
listening experience on album.
All The Rite Stuff
Review by Marius Masalar
Like many other good films before it, THE RITE is based on a book. But
director Mikael Håfström read more than just Matt Baglio’s The Making Of A
Modern Exorcist to prepare for the film’s production, attending several
exorcisms and working alongside one of the book’s actual characters,
Father Gary Thomas, who served as a consultant for the film. Some of this
may seem unusual for your average horror flick, and that is where many
viewers might find their first surprise with THE RITE: it’s really not a
horror film at all.
The story is more about a young man finding his way, and the exorcisms and
supernatural subject matter are treated with dignity and restraint, never
straying into the needlessly showy. Which is just what one would expect
from a film from the same producers as The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Rest
assured though: THE RITE may not be a straight-up horror film, but it has
chills to deliver.
The film’s sophisticated tone is due in no small part to ALEX HEFFES, a
critically lauded UK film composer best known for his work on such award
winning films as The Last King of Scotland and Touching the Void. For THE
RITE, HEFFES has prepared a score that treats its subject delicately and
beautifully, not resorting to excessive scare tactics. The effect is one
of glorious poignancy and restraint, and it serves to elevate the film
from generic thriller to thought-provoking supernatural drama.
“The Procedure” (1) opens gently as the main character, initially a
mortician, prepares a body for burial. Contemplating his life, he kicks
off the events of the story by deciding to leave that life behind and
become a priest. The music follows his struggle without overpowering it.
The film’s pensive main theme appears on piano before giving way to a
pulsing synth bed. The presence of synthesizers may be unexpected, but
they fit very well and are never distracting, always making their
contributions quietly, allowing the main theme to continue above. This
combination is joined by strings in “Going to Rome” (2), which also
continues developing the main theme in soft woodwind solos and brass. The
pace picks up midway through as the theme is tossed back to the piano. A
synthy choir is an unfortunate misstep in an otherwise stirring and
propulsive exposition cue that swells to a dramatic peak before calming.
Tension is hinted at with the abrupt beginning of “The Accident” (3), but
before it can take hold, HEFFES pulls back and offers a heartfelt
string-led development of his main theme. Darkness falls with “The First
Exorcism” (4) though, and although musically the cue is sparse, the
tension ramps up strongly through a series of false builds and unsettling
orchestral effects. Rather than scare us further, “God’s Fingernail” (5)
recapitulates the theme again in another fresh form, this time with some
gentle plucking behind the piano and strings. It’s a calming track.
“Rosaria Coughs Up The Nails” (6), on the other hand, is not. Utilizing
the same subtle and non-violent approach to tension as before, HEFFES
turns up the heat a bit with some stronger builds and an evil climax
worthy featuring a haunting female vocal phrase that wouldn’t be out of
place in a Christopher Young score. The second half builds to a strong
orchestral high that has shed the dissonances of the first half.
Demonstrating a wide range, the composer returns to tackle one of the
album’s longest cues with a variety of moods ranging from the dramatic
beauty of the main theme to tense orchestral dissonance and droning. The
fact that it all blends together seamlessly makes for a very strong
listening experience. It tells the story of the film very well even
without the footage.
By the time we reach “Angeline’s Story” (8) and “Phone Call to Father”
(9), even the more gentle cues have an edge of menace and uncertainty. The
latter features a stirring rendition of the theme on a solo violin near
the end, but the pleasant feelings are quickly replaced by the heavy
gothic brooding of “The Terror is Real” (10). This track is, as the title
suggests, something of a turning point in the film, and it is treated
extremely well — without excessive melodrama. It’s easy enough to know
when to let loose, but HEFFES clearly knows when to hold back too — an
altogether trickier prospect. Listen for a magnificent climatic ending to
The album’s longest track, “The Exorcism of Lucas Part 1” (11), is a
lengthy sequence of drones, builds, and surprise hits. It never quite
musters much listenable value, but it performs its job admirably for the
picture and resolves attractively enough with a return to the piano and
strings. The same model of long cues continues to the end of the album,
and “The Final Exorcism” (12) is essentially a continuation of the
previous track only with all the elements reflecting the higher stakes.
Music fans will be able to rejoice at the final cue, “The Farewell” (13),
which is a stunning recapitulation of the score’s major highlights — the
main theme is thoroughly explored, and all instrumental colours are
revisited with enthusiasm. As the pace picks up near the end, there is a
feeling of true satisfaction to be had. Something that seems increasingly
rare on modern score albums.
ALEX HEFFES’ achievement is not in breaking new ground, because he hasn’t
done that here. Instead, he is to be commended for approaching THE RITE
from a smart angle, that of a drama rather than an outright thriller.
While the lack of live musicians in some of the instrumental sections is
distractingly noticeable on a few cues, the lapses are brief and
infrequent enough that the experience is not marred, and even the sampled
sections are always musical. In the end, HEFFES’ music focuses on the
subtext rather than the obvious, and the result is a satisfying and even
memorable production that supports the film perfectly and offers listeners
and engaging and well-rounded listening experience on album. We could
hardly ask for more.