Set in the North of England city of Bradford, Polterheist has two dim-witted gangsters desperately trying to find a stash of drug money stolen by their boss. However, to complicate matters, they have just murdered him, and they must therefore kidnap a local psychic medium and force her to contact the dead gang boss. Unfortunately, they only succeed in unleashing an evil spirit seeking revenge. Primarily a gritty British gangster comedy, Polterheist adds a supernatural horror element that gives the movie added entertainment value.
The score for Polterheist is by Italian composer Umberto Gaudino. Since finishing his Masters at Leeds College of Music, Gaudino’s main credits include composing and arranging music for fashion shows for the likes of Dolce & Gabbana. Polterheist is his first feature. The score is mainly built around the sparing use of a small number of instruments to create an overall feel rather than following the on-screen action. Short vibraphone phrases and synth drones (“Tracy’s House”), percussion patterns and cimbalom (“Bradford”) are used in various combinations to give a stilted creepy feel. Lumbering pizzicato strings are paired with sitar to provide a comedic tone that both adds to the overall sense of comedy in the movie but also serves as a stark counterpoint to the occasional gang violence (“Uncle Uday”, “Kidding Police Uncle Uday”).
The score feels a bit disjointed with snippets of ideas coming and then quickly disappearing. For example, there’s a short drum-kit and catchy synth segment towards the end of “Tracy’s House” that’s straight out of a heist movie but it’s quickly set to one side, there are a couple of times where we hear some lovely and sympathetic strings that underscore brief insights of emotion between characters but they are fleeting (“The Medium”, “I’ve Never Been A Winner”), and when Polterheist’s score does break out into something more cinematic (pulsing percussion beats and a filled-out strings section) they are buried within the more ubiquitous creepy underscore (“Money Makes Us Crazy”). “Gunshots In The Car Park” and “Dies Irae” buck the trend of the score as a whole with their more animated sequences, with the former being packed full of pulsing urban percussion patterns, saxophones, funky electric guitar and keyboards and the latter bringing out the score’s horror side with creepy choral voices, tremolo and staccato strings. Finally, the album is brought to a close with “HolyBolly”, a spirited Bollywood-inspired piece, and “Dark Girl”, a standard end credits song.
Polterheist is a score that is clear about the feel that it wants to establish, and it’s a sound that really disregards how it will sound away from the image. Within the movie itself, Gaudino’s score fits very well indeed and plays an important role in reminding the viewer of the supernatural element of the movie when there’s little on-screen evidence of this. It also works well to reinforce that the film is a gangster movie. But, there’s little narrative to the album because of the disjointed nature of the music. In saying that, the album is worth hearing but it’s better hearing it in the context of the movie itself.
The album can be purchased at online stores as a digital download and the movie is currently available to stream.
- Polterheist (0:58)
- Tracy’s House (3:59)
- Bradford (4:45)
- Uncle Uday (1:25)
- The Polish Nightclub (1:46)
- The Medium (7:23)
- Money Makes Us Crazy (3:34)
- The Plan (2:51)
- I’ve Never Been A Winner (1:34)
- Nightmares (1:23)
- Kidding Police Uncle Uday (3:28)
- Gunshots In The Car Park (6:11)
- Unconscious Anger (2:35)
- Where Are My Diamonds? (1:31)
- Dies Irae (6:53)
- Frank’s Theme (I’ve Never Been A Winner) (Reprise) (2:24)
- Only One Winner (Polterheist) (2:12)
- HolyBolly (1:18)
- Dark Girl (3:40)
Running Time: 59:56
Umberto Gaudino (2019)