CRIMEFIGHTERS – Hayley Hutchinson & Sam Forrest

Original Review by Alan Rogers

CrimeFighters is a low budget (apparently the entire budget ran to about £7,000), independent film from 2010 made by a group of individuals with very little feature film experience. Writer/director Miles Watts – probably best known to some as part of the creative force behind the zombie horror/comedy web series Zomblogalypse – sets his film in York and follows a group of friends who are bored after deciding to keep off the drink for a month. To liven things up they don face masks and Spandex then set off to rid York’s streets of crime. Shot in black-and-white, the film is more Batman than Kick-Ass in style and has had mixed reviews since its release. Having produced a number of videos for rock band The Sorry Kisses (made up of duo singer-songwriter Hayley Hutchinson and Nine Black Alps singer/guitarist Sam Forrest), Watts asked Hutchinson and Forrest to create an original score for CrimeFighters. The duo composed, performed and recorded a (synth-based) orchestral score that’s full of urban-styled rough guitar riffs, tribal percussion and has a couple of themes worth hearing. However, this album shows that the score is as much a mixed bag as the film’s reviews.

The album begins with a 5-minute montage highlighting the main musical ideas of the score. What could be considered the “CrimeFighters’ theme” bookends the “Main Theme” and features a catchy percussion hook and a Peter Gunn-styled electric guitar riff. It’s a good start to the album, particularly when another theme – heard later in extended form in “Ella and Ethan” – is stated in the middle section of the track. The music for Ella and (ex-boyfriend policeman) Ethan is a highlight of the album. Beginning hesitantly on piano/keyboards, the addition of sparse wordless female vocals and a slow percussion beat, gives their theme quite a gloomy feel to it. Theirs is not a happy relationship it seems but the composers’ music adds a sense of longing and perhaps even a sense of a missed opportunity to their situation. It is where the score supports the chief protagonists of the film that is its strength. The thematic material for CrimeFighters Pip and Daisy (“Pip and Daisy”) has shades of romance about it, mostly down to the repeating acoustic guitar motif and it’s accompanying electric guitar. Both “Ella and Ethan” and “Pip and Daisy” offer up statements of the melodies with some variations in instrumentation rather than thematic variation but that’s not too much of a problem as the melodies are so pleasing on the ear. 

The remainder of the album is made up of predominantly atmospheric tracks that are not particularly interesting (e.g., “Curt’s Theme”, “Thugs On The Rise”). There’s a tribal quality to the percussion rhythms that seem to be associated with the “thugs” found on the streets of York (“Thugs On The Rise”, “Thugs vs Vigilantes”) and this is set against the more action hero-styled grungy guitar riffs and motifs for the CrimeFighters (“Main Theme”, “Go CrimeFighters!”). “Go CrimeFighters!” represents the best of the action scoring heard in the film. But the limited range of the synths (I think that most of the score is synth based) means that the action music comes across more as scene filler rather than actually being particularly exciting. A short motif for electric guitar midway through this track does inject some excitement into the cue but it’s a relatively short-lived diversion (this reminds me somewhat of George Shaw’s music in Agents of Secret Stuff). The album is brought to a close by a pop-influenced song, “Daisy’s Got Standards”.

Hutchinson and Forrest’s experience writing songs shows in the score for CrimeFighters. The score features a couple of catchy and memorable melodic themes (“Pip and Daisy” and “Ella and Ethan”) that forms the emotional heart of the score. But the musical underscore for the film lacks much of interest and is nothing more than grungy guitar riffs, various percussion rhythms and Danny Elfman-styled wordless female vocals. It’s the melodic themes that stick in the memory and it is these that will have me revisiting this score in the future. CrimeFighters is available at the usual digital download outlets.

Audio samples can be found HERE and then click on blue arrow next to running time for samples of entire album or individual tracks.

Rating: **

  1. Main Theme (5:41)
  2. Curt’s Theme (2:40)
  3. Thugs On The Rise (4:21)
  4. Pip and Daisy (5:46)
  5. I’m A CrimeFighter (0:11)
  6. Bad News Sells (2:21)
  7. Evil Plans (1:37)
  8. What Will Tonight Bring? (0:11)
  9. Go CrimeFighters! (3:10)
  10. Ella and Ethan (5:34)
  11. Thugs vs. Vigilantes (2:35)
  12. Daisy’s Got Standards (2:34)

Running Time: 36:44

Desert Mine Music (2010)

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