Camp Cold Brook composer reveals the secrets to creating a terrifying score

Photo Courtesy of Camp Cold Brook
Photo Courtesy of Camp Cold Brook /
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Camp Cold Brook
Photo Courtesy of Camp Cold Brook /

1428 Elm: When you composed the film, were you doing it while it was in production or did it come after the entire production was wrapped?

CR: After it was finished. In fact, the film that was going to be released next month is, I don’t want to say very different, but it is different from the way the film was originally created. There was a flashback element to it, and after the film was edited they did go back and tweak how the flashbacks were seen.

I think, basically, when they started showing audiences, there was a little confusion with the timeline. But what is going to be released is fantastic in terms of following the timeline and the flashbacks.

When I scored it, it was slightly different in terms of the timeline but the director and I went back and used the same score, with a couple of additional things, it didn’t really change the sound of the score necessarily but there were some timeline changes that took place.

1428 Elm: I didn’t find it hard to follow when I watched it — I’m guessing I saw the updated cut.

CR: Right, absolutely. That’s always tough, too, when you have a movie that has numerous flashbacks and timelines, but the new cut is spot-on.

1428 Elm: Do you think that the documentary angle makes Camp Cold Brook stand out in the genre?

CR: I think it does and I think the other cool thing that they do, similar to what Stranger Things did — with how there are numerous references to the ’80s, Camp Cold Brook also does that with numerous references to the ’90s because that’s when the camp was shut down.

But when they go back to explore, they see the cassette tapes and posters, so for someone like me, who was in high school at that time, it was fun to see what a camp would have looked like 20 years ago and pick up on those little references and Easter eggs they added.

1428 Elm: Yeah I always love when horror movies take place of the old summer camps since it reminds me of the classic slasher movies. I also think it’s kind of “meta” becomes they’re visiting the old camp in the present tense. 

CR: Right! Exactly.

1428 Elm: Do you think it’s difficult to create suspense and tension through music?

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CR: Horrors and thrillers are probably one of my favorite genres to score and I think it has a lot to do with the ability to experiment. That genre allows you to try new things and hear instruments in different ways, and also it’s so much to do with the conversations.

I love the collaborative approach. I love the conversations with the director of, you know, “do we have the music start right on the scare? Do we wait for a second? Do we hit it a couple of seconds before?”

So all those tiny little decisions, that’s part of the scoring process I love. I love writing the music, but I love really working with the production team to figure out what’s going to work and what’s going to make it scarier.

Even the fact that just shifting some of the hits, even a couple of frames back or forth, can make a tremendous difference in how it impacts an audience.

1428 Elm: I always think that, well we know music is important to every movie in some respect, but it’s even more interactive with horror movies because it’s such a pivotal part of the scares.

CR: Absolutely, and even though when I’m scoring I see the scare so many times, it’s always fun to watch it with an audience, because you kind of see everything again through their eyes for the first time. At that point, you can see what worked and what didn’t work and make a mental note for next time.

1428 Elm: Did you have any specific scene or part that you’re just really proud of how it turned out?

CR: For me, there were two that stood out. Danielle Harris, which of course, everyone who knows horror knows her, but I think — without giving too much away to your readers — there’s a big scene at the end with swing sets, and for me to kind of see her in her prime, I mean you know something is going to happen, it’s at the end of the film.

Just to be able to really milk that, and build it as much as you can without giving it away. I love those slow builds. That, and there’s kind of a campfire/confession that happens about a third of a way through the film it’s a nice pseudo-tender moment but still creepy, and for me, to kind of take a break and give the audience a little breath before we keep hitting them with scares. It’s always nice to have a couple of those scenes to bring everybody back to zero before we amp it up to 11 again.

Check out the official Camp Cold Brook trailer below:

Next. The Lodge and more horror releasing in February 2020. dark

1428 Elm: It helps you bond with the characters more, too, which I liked. Well, thank you so much for chatting with me, I think that about wraps it up on my end. I look forward to everyone seeing the film, I think they’re going to love it.

CR: Thanks for your time, I appreciate it!

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Camp Cold Brook will be released on February 14 in select theaters and VOD, it will come out on DVD and Blu-ray in March.