Original Review by Alan Rogers (First uploaded at maintitles.net)
Written, directed and starring Ty Jones, Last Breath seems, at first sight, to be just another torture-horror movie where the protagonists find themselves trapped and at the mercy of a sadistic killer hell-bent on making his captures suffer for 90 minutes or so before killing everyone or being killed themselves (perhaps). However, Jones’ first directorial feature is not all that it seems to be. Released to both popular and critical acclaim in 2010 the film stars the director and Mandy Bannon as Michael and Tina Johnson, a couple whose once-happy marriage has come under severe pressure from various directions and is at risk of collapse. Finding themselves trapped in an abandoned warehouse and being stalked by a “Dark Figure” (Aaron Laue), the film follows the pair as they make a series of choices that will decide both their and their son’s future. A revelatory twist at the end of the film then takes the couple (as well as the audience) down a path that has everyone re-examining the film’s events. Recently made available on Howlin’ Wolf Records as a limited release (limited to 500), Swiss-born composer Vincent Gillioz’s award-winning score to Last Breath highlights how a score that could have been just another run-of-the-mill horror score can be enhanced when a composer has a clear vision for the score and how it interacts with the story.
Gillioz’s task on Last Breath is a difficult one. There is the family drama of the deterioration of Michael and Tina’s relationship plus the horror aspect of the film (their imprisonment and torture by the Dark Figure) which, as it turns out (as the composer explains in the CD’s liner notes), “…is actually an allegory to the [family] drama”. Musically, Gillioz represents family and family values with a piano because of the instrument’s association with the home and the attendant feelings of stability, solidity and warmth. “To The Core” provides one of the most complete statement of Gillioz’s family theme. A single piano gives a heartfelt statement of the family’s theme, highlighting the positive aspects of the family’s relationship. In the same track, Gillioz then highlights the versatility of the theme, taking a 4-note fragment of this theme (played on winds) and building the orchestra up around the fragment, mirroring the complication of Mandy’s family values by intruding revelations. This family theme (full or as a fragment) appears throughout the score whenever the concept of family values (a lifeline to which the protagonists must cling to in order to survive their ordeal?) arises during key moment of the film. Read the rest of this entry »