Signs is a tightly woven, self-contained sci-fi horror film that owes as much to Alfred Hitchhoch’s thrillers as it does to George Romero’s Living Dead. Both Romero and Hitchcock excelled at putting their protagonists in increasingly more difficult and psychologically crippling positions.
Reinforcing the movie’s terror is a first-rate soundtrack that dines on tension like a stress-seeking ghoul. More often than not, the music is subdued, reinforcing the steadily building unease on the screen. But almost every track is pierced by sudden, shocking surges in tempo that startle the solitary listener almost as much as the film frightens its viewers.
The soundtrack composed and directed by James Newton Howard, who also handled the scoring for M. Night’s earlier movies The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. The soundtracks to those movies were good, but in Signs the soundtrack is almost its own character. Indeed, the music is omni-present throughout the film, and its sharp climaxes provide some of its biggest scares.
All of the tracks of some element of horror to them, although some are more immediately successfully than others. The opening track, “Main Title” — which in the theatre managed to raise people’s blood pressure even though nothing more terrifying than the opening credits was appearing on screen – is nicely spooky. The drum crash that opens the second-to-last track – “The Hand of Fate” makes me jump every time I listen to the CD.
The tracks in between don’t stand out as much, but this doesn’t mean they’re not effective. Rather, they merge together to create a symphony of unease. I haven’t had a chance to use it in game yet, but I’m looking forward to springing this CD on my players during my next Delta Green session. I may have to omit the last two tracks when I do — while “The Hand of Fate” opens with a scare, it turns into something a bit too hopeful for the likes of Call of Cthulhu.
Will folks other than DMs looking for a new scary CD appreciate this soundtrack? That depends on how much they liked the movie. Diehard Night fans will want to pick it up for sure, as well horror aficionados. Others may not appreciate it as much — it’s just not the sort of thing you play during a polite dinner party (unless aid party is on Halloween)
- Signs Motion Picture Soundtrack
- Directed by James Newton Howard
- Label: Hollywood Records
- MSRP: $18.98
- Buy it from Amazon.com