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DE GROOT, CHRISTOPHER - SORORAL’S HORRORBLE SCORE

The nice looking young man smiling shyly at the camera, Christopher de Groot, has composed a truly (and suitably) creepy score for Sororal, Sam Barrett’s creepy new, low budget horror movie; de Groot is one of the nominees for Best Feature Film Score at this year’s Screen Music Awards (Nov. 12, Sydney City Recital Hal ) and newest signing by Sweden’s Screamworks Records. Andrew L. Urban reports.

One critic after its Grimmfest screening describes Sororal as “A heady whirlwind of genetic experimentation, mind control, telekinetic power struggles, and twisted art…”

The film tells how Cassie is tormented by visions of murder. Terrifying images flood her dreams and attack her waking hours. Her dreams are her curse and keep her isolated from the everyday world. Cassie’s life is thrown into disarray when a mysterious detective comes to her with a bombshell: He tells her that her visions are depictions of real murders, murders that she couldn’t possibly have seen. Cassie’s pain now has a face, and she must stop the killing at all costs. The twisted, childlike killer targets Cassie’s loved ones, and the race is on to stop her. Cassie is thrown together with her former lover as they scramble towards a shocking revelation that will change everything.

As a horror movie and labelled Australia’s first Giallo film, Sororal needed something special, and de Groot is just the composer to have done that. The distinctive sound is the result of a 10-piece brass section, 16-piece choir, two drum kits, electric guitar, electric cello, a barrage of analogue synthesizers and a Hungarian cimbalom. The score takes inspiration from prog-rock, kraut-rock, as well as Bulgarian choir music, 20th Century avant-garde classical works and classic Giallo scores from the likes of soundtrack band Goblin and legendary Italian film composer Ennio Morricone.

De Groot performed and recorded all of the analogue synthesizer and guitar parts in his bedroom while the brass section was recorded covertly at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts during the 2012 summer break. The choir was recorded at St Paul’s church in Menora, Perth whilst the rhythm section (the only element recorded in a traditional studio) was recorded at Soundfield studio. (Since then, de Groot has moved to Melbourne.)

“Independent film making can be tough,” comments de Groot, “especially when you have high aspirations and want to create a unique sounding score that’s big and bombastic. The scarcity of your resources forces you to find creative solutions though. We recorded the various instrumental sections at different times as the funds came to hand.”

Primarily a pianist with a background in jazz and classical composition, de Groot has incorporated his interest in new music, electronics, recording techniques and cult soundtracks into his composition practice.

Suitably enough, the rights to the Sororal score were acquired by Screamworks, currently the only record label devoted entirely to horror film scores.

Run by composer/producer Mikael Carlsson, Screamworks and its sister company MovieScore Media was founded in 2005. MovieScore Media has produced over 200 soundtrack albums many of which have been written by up and coming composers.

Mikael Carlsson outlines the initial motivation behind setting up his soundtrack labels: “I had begun to experience a certain amount of fatigue towards mainstream scores, the ones you hear in big budget blockbuster movies. I was always looking for interesting music, and in my experience they often came from smaller films and, quite often, from unknown composers.”

Of de Groot’s score to Sororal, Carlsson says “totally unique, challenging and highly original. A nasty score filled with surprises!”

Published October 23, 2014

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