Horror fans tuning into the final installment of Netflix’s trilogy “Fear Street,” based on the R.L Stine books, are transported back to 1666 to experience a nightmare that has been haunting the town of Shadyside for generations: a witch hunt.
To create the soundscape, composer Anna Drubich, influenced by Ari Aster’s 2019 release “Midsommar” and helped along with her training as a classical composer, worked with Marco Beltrami to come up with an experimental vibe. She talked to Variety about her process.
Since you were coming in to score the last film in the trilogy, what kind of conversations did you have prior?
Leigh Janiak had the idea that each movie would be set in different eras. So, for “Fear Street: 1994,” there was the obvious score and music which was influenced by “Scream.” With “Fear Street: 1978,” she wanted something influenced by Jerry Goldsmith, along the lines of “Alien.” And when you get to “Fear Street: 1666,” there isn’t really a sound with that. So, she wanted something that was both modern and yet experimental.
With that, how do you approach that in terms of your instrument palette?
I started to collect sounds and sample things because I wanted this weird, witchy sound for the movie. I recorded some donkey jawbone, some shell shakers and my own voice. I had a collection of unique sounds and had a nonet of instruments to record at the Abbey Road studio the majority of the score because we wanted this eerie and raw sound. A big orchestra would have given it a completely different sound if we did that.
Did you have specific cues for the characters?
There’s a love scene between two characters and for that, I had an intimate sound. But I made sure to use the cello for the evil theme that lurks in the village. In another part of the film, there’s a wink to the other two films, and I weaved in a comedy theme, which turns back to serious for the end of the film.
What were your influences for “Fear Street: 1666,” since you didn’t have songs from that era to use?
I watched “Midsommar.” That was my inspiration. But I was trying to embrace the witchcraft theme of the episode.
When the story goes back to ’94, it was about going back to the themes that had been established earlier. Similarly, when it jumps to ’78 I went back to the themes Marco Beltrami had used. It was fun and a huge honor to work in the team of outstanding composers with Marco, Brandon Roberts and Marcus Trumpp.
What’s the secret to composing a scary movie and being able to make it your own?
I have a classical background and studied classical composition so I feel very comfortable with extended techniques. The fun thing about horror is you can experiment with it, whether it’s using synths and other sounds. You can’t really do that with comedy or drama.