'The Hunted' soundtrack is rich in varieties of feedback and in the creation of serial...
Morag Reavley 2003
Perhaps more than any other film genre, thrillers live or die by their soundtracks. More often than not, it's an unexpected crescendo or screech of violins which makes you spill your dustbin-sized carton of popcorn or embed your nails in your neighbours forearm. And, except in the most explicit films, it's the violence of the soundtrack which flags the climax and spells out what the visuals demur to show.
By the same token, the soundtrack of a thriller is probably the most restricted in what it can and can't do. No lessening of the tension, no melodic excursions to detract from the plot, and no departures from the tried-and-tested suspense formula.
These principles are at play in The Hunted, William Friedkin's outlaw thriller featuring Tommy Lee Jones as the government assassin on the heels of bad egg Benicio del Toro.
It opens already in a state of high alarm with "Asymmetric Rhythms", a frenzy of urgent violins and distressed brass rising to the first of many crescendos only two-and-a-half minutes in. This leaves the soundtrack with only two places to go, brooding strings (for thoughtful sequences) and suspenseful, drum-led dissonance (building up to high alarm) that's pretty much all you get.
To be fair, Tyler does succeed in building up impressive walls of electrical noise in tracks such as "Coda Con Furiosa", all eerie squeals and wails. But no sooner does one such track climax than another, similar one begins.
The album closes with Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around", a song about Judgement Day which is more disconcerting and complex in its treatment of justice than any of the high-gothic riffs which have preceded it.
The Hunted soundtrack is rich in varieties of feedback and in the creation of serial musical suspense, but not much more. It may make for a successful thriller, but not for a satisfying musical experience.