HYBRIDS – Sam Hulick

Original Review by Alan RogersHybrids

Earth has been occupied by an alien race for almost a year. Hybrids, a Canadian short film written and directed by one-time visual effects artist Patrick Kalyn (King Kong, Avatar, District 9), tells the story of Dakota (Daniella Evangelista) who is seeking revenge on the alien invaders responsible for the death of her daughter. Produced by the company who were behind the Neill Blomkamp short that became District 9, Hybrids has the visual confidence associated with the very successful South African predecessor and is impressive both technically and visually. However, a familiar storyline and some well-worn cinematic devices (e.g., dreamy slo-mo flashbacks) take the edge of what is an accomplished piece of work considering the various constraints associated with a small-budget film.

The score is composed and orchestrated by Sam Hulick, who is probably best-known for his work on various video game franchises including Mass Effect. 2013 seems to be the year in which he finally branches out into other areas: as well as continuing composing for the video game genre (with his score for the web-based game, Conclave), Hulick has also composed a more sedate and low-key score for an upcoming PBS documentary on the life of landscape architect Jens Jensen (Jens Jensen, The Living Green) and his score for Hybrids represents an early foray into scoring for a live action movie.

“Hunting For Vengeance” is the first part of the two-track score and features a heavy presence of strong percussive ideas alternating with dreamy and nostalgic piano passages. Although this first track is confidently realised, it does highlight one of the problems that can befall films with such a short running time (in this case, 8 minutes): the need to establish the story quickly and to move through the storytelling efficiently. Quick editing means that Hulick must shift the music at speed. The film cuts back-and-forth between our ex-Special Forces heroine stalking aliens through a scrapyard (cue heavy, metallic percussion) and slow-motion flashbacks of Evangelista remembering sharing time with her daughter in more innocent times (cue a nostalgic piano idea). Cutting between the two musical ideas makes for quite a disjointed listening experience. Having watched the movie it’s easy to appreciate the reasons for such a dynamic in “Hunting For Vengeance”.

The second half of this short score is much more satisfying. The film itself is structured into two halves: the first half shows the battle to survive that humans face under occupation by the aliens, and in the second half things are much more optimistic and we see that the human race can and are fighting back. Correspondingly, “We Must Carry On” mirrors this and Hulick tones down the percussive aspects of the score and now uses bold strings and brass to foster a resolute determination within the music to back the dogged determination of the resistance to fight. The piano motif from “Hunting For Vengeance” returns but, where before it was for nostalgic remembrance of a way of life now lost, here in “We Must Carry On” this motif is now a tool that is for fuelling the resolve of the humans to fight for their planet.

Hulick’s score for Hybrids is a perfectly good score and hits all the marks required of it. The second track in particular, “We Must Carry On”, is very effective at conveying the push of the resistance in their battle against the alien invaders. In fact, Hulick does convince through the quality of this cue that we might just win the fight. The score as a listening experience does suffer because of the need to shift quickly between the various musical ideas due to the film’s quick editing. But, Hybrids is a solid piece of scoring considering the limited resources and tight requirements of the film. “We Must Carry On” should be a track that sticks in the mind of the listener and is well worth a listen. Sam Hulick’s score for Hybrids is available to purchase at the composer’s Bandcamp page and Patrick Kalyn’s film can be viewed in full HERE.

The score can be listened in full HERE.

Rating: **½

  1. Hunting For Vengeance (3:21)
  2. We Must Carry On (3:08)

Running Time: 6:30

Sam Hulick (2013)

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