Don’t be afraid of the dark with the Bird Box Soundtrack

(SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t watched Bird Box yet, do it now before reading this!)

Trent Reznor has teamed up with Nine Inch Nails bandmate, Atticus Ross, to release the haunting, but fascinating soundtrack for Netflix’s acclaimed horror, Bird Box.

What’s that on my Apple Music’s New Releases?

I was instantly creeped out upon  scrolling through my  Apple Music to discover the 10 songs from the 1 hour and 5 minutes original Bird Box score. Without blindfolding my eyes, I could literally picture Sandra Bullock fighting off the aliens in front of me. But the August Rush in me decided to press play; and this is what I experienced.

My experience listening to the Bird Box original score

Album opener “Outside” started, and within the first 5 seconds, an ominous feeling hit me, conveyed  by the great duo through an array of techniques designed to capture the film’s sense of anxiety and discomfort. This 12-minute ensemble starts with a quiet piano melody, one that sends shivers down my spine; and then halfway through it’s though they decided “Ok, it’s time for the scary shit to happen now”, as if the piano intro wasn’t creepy at all.

In the track “Last Thing Left” the scary shit is left behind, just like the guy who looks like Machine Gun Kelly (okay, it’s the real Machine Gun Kelly) and Lucy left everyone else. We find ourselves in lullaby mode, with Reznor’s perfect melodic signature suggesting that Malorie, Boy and Girl are going to be alright.

So you may be wondering why I’m going on and on about a movie soundtrack  that has no words?

It’s not as if I’m going to listen to this soundtrack in my car or play it full blast at my next barbecue, but what excites me about this original score is the big part it plays in the movie and what effect it had on my emotions while I was cooped up on my couch watching Sandra Bullock survive on a canoe.

I took a course in videography during my studies in Potchefstroom, where we had this discussion on how filmmakers use music to convey a certain feeling or emotion, and how they perfectly crafted it to evoke these feelings. Imagine, for instance, that you’re watching Grey’s Anatomy without that awfully sad song playing. Yeah it’s going to be sad, but not bawling your eyes out, am I right?

So how is it possible for me to feel like I’m going to shit my pants whenever I listen to Bird Box’s original score?

The brilliant Reznor and Ross used soundscapes. You are probably screaming at me now:

“But wait wannabe August Rush, what is a soundscape?!”

According to Soundscape and Film, a soundscape in films is a careful selection and mix of sounds, created to evoke a certain feeling for the viewer or listener. It makes that person believe that they are there, wherever the location or environment of the film may be. The soundscapes are what make me shiver and want to close my eyes as I watch Bird Box. And that is the beauty of this original score, because let’s be honest, would Bird Box be as exceptional without all the unnerving sounds that just screams mounting horror? And just as the noise of the birds saved poor Malorie from the aliens, the original score saved this movie.

Bird Box’s original score is not an easy listen and the songcraft is far less direct, but it draws you into the dark. It’s up to you to decide whether you’re going to be afraid of the dark or not!

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