Stake Land

Jeff Grace

" Interesting debut score for new label Screamworks Records "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the regular release

The first score of newly formed label Screamworks Records (exclusively devoted to contemporary horror film music) brings us towards Jeff Grace, composer of The House of the Devil, I Sell the Dead and The Last Winter amongst others (all available from MovieScore Media). And the first release is Stake Land, a post apocalyptic vampire road movie of 2010 (as director and composer like to address it). For me there are but a few ways to spell out horror, but Screamworks surely picked out an interesting one to proof me wrong. Because Stake Land dares to match the few horrific moments with an at times intimate and folks Americana palette.

The score overall is filled with interesting little ideas and people who favor a melodic but also rewarding experience will feel right at home here. Jeff Grace always likes to look for new sounds, and Stake Land dares to deliver a couple. For instance there's a cello effect in "The Brotherhood" that nicely reflects the vast open deserted atmosphere the characters need to wander through (repeated in "Jebediah Done In"). There's an intriguing moment of the violin as it scratches the atonal right out of "Barn Attack" (reminds me The Exorcism of Emily Rose), repeating its idea in the more emotional unnerving "Sister Agatha" and during the rhythmic suspense of "Nothing Out There" (with even a vuvuzela as additional noise maker).

The most surprising element of Stake Land turns out to be the emotional music. In "Lockdown Town" and "Belle and the New Family" they literally calm the characters down with intimate piano and an uplifting fiddle and violin work. The piano dominates "Leaving Strivington" while "Moving North" takes that returning theme towards a violin and piano in the end. This theme now forms the basis of the dramatic after touch in "Alarm Trigger".

In truth, as the album progresses, it's the more intimate emotional music that takes over, putting an emotional cloak around "Sister is Gone", "Not your Daddy" and creates an emotional weight in the beautiful sorrowful violin work of "Goodbye Belle". It even gets its uplifting ending in "New Eden" when guitar pushes the main theme so hopefully high that it could be a happy ending movie after all. The other parts are when Grace tries to underscore the horror and the fright on screen. In "Taken" he does that through the use of a guitar, in "Showdown" it's the brass that pushes the scratching violin towards its brief atonal collision.

What I find unique about Stake Land is the fact it's pretty tonal, it's pretty interesting and even sometimes downright beautiful. Screamworks Records definitely delivered us its contemporary horror music, making Stake Land an interesting score to listen to. Sometimes it's hard to find a balance between melodic acceptance and the necessary atonal stings and shrieks in today's horror music, but somehow Jeff Grace delivered it. Like the movie, it focuses rather on the characters than the horror, making sure the music talks to you rather than screams to you. Okay, perhaps not the best release for Screamworks Records then, but definitely a satisfiable one whatsoever.


1. Main Title (1.32)
2. Lockdown Town (2.37)
3. Orphans (1.33)
4. Barn Attack (1.22)
5. Sister Agatha (2.10)
6. The Brotherhood (4.57)
7. Nothing Out There (1.57)
8. Belle and the New Family (1.45)
9. Scamp (1.21)
10. Willie (1.29)
11. Jebediah Done In (2.42)
12. Leaving Strivington (2.40)
13. Moving North (2.09)
14. Alarm Trigger (2.15)
15. Sister is Gone (1.51)
16. Thinking Vamp (1.20)
17. Not Your Daddy (1.29)
18. Taken (1.56)
19. Showdown (1.30)
20. Goodbye Belle (1.39)
21. A World With No Vamps (0.57)
22. Martin and Peggy (1.26)
23. A New Life (1.05)
24. New Eden (1.29)
25. Strivington Band (2.17)
26. Training (0.46)

Total Length: 48.14
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 4 votes - average 4.5/5)

Released by

Screamworks Records SWR11001 (regular release 2011)

Orchestrations by

Jeff Grace