In Andrew Mecha and Matthew Whedon’s The Nameless Days, a young immigrant, Rahui (Alejandro Akara), and his pregnant sister (Ashley Marian Ramos) are attacked and separated by a demonic spirit near the U.S. border. What does it want? A newborn baby! We interview the film’s composer, Christian Davis, about his experience working on the film and about the horror genre.
Interview of The Nameless Days composer Christian Davis
1428 ELM: The Nameless Days is a pretty straightforward story, yet something about it seems
unique, innovative, and original. How would you describe this movie?
CHRISTIAN DAVIS: Thank you! We tried hard to make it unique. I would describe it as a brooding, mystical nightmare.
1428 ELM: The main antagonist almost seems trapped in limbo, at times unthinking yet having some vague intelligence. Do you think the demon character has psychology or is it purely driven by unthinking instinct? How human is it? Do they live a personal life?
CHRISTIAN DAVIS: Having spent some time with the Aztec creature (Cihuateteo), I’d say it’s pure, raw, animalistic instinct. But it would a fun prequel to see the personal life of the Cihuateteo. Does she have any hobbies? Friends? Favorite sports teams…?
1428 ELM: As the film almost breathes new life into the Aztecs, I had to look into the real legend of the Cihuateteo. Was the score of The Nameless Days at all influenced by the legend?
CHRISTIAN DAVIS: Yes. To create the Cihuateteo theme, I used a combination of Aztec Death whistle and Ayoyotes. Both are traditional Aztec instruments. It’s the “rattle and scream” sound that you hear right before the creature shows up.
1428 ELM: The supernatural life is not always pleasant, and this demon creature seems cursed. In what way does this relate to the other characters and also to the score?
CHRISTIAN DAVIS: I think all of our characters are dealing with their own personal curses. Nicole (Ally Ioannides) is cursed to never leave their ranch. Charles (Charles Halford) is emotionally cursed by the death of his brother. Rahui and Gabriela are cursed by immigration policy. And in a way, they all overcome their curses as they simultaneously overcome the Cihuateteo.
1428 ELM: I cannot lie and say I’ve only seen positive reviews for The Nameless Days, but I think people should give this one a chance. What’s one of your favorite things about this movie?
CHRISTIAN DAVIS: The movie starts slow, it’s definitely a slow burn. But I think it really pays off in the third act. I also really love the performances by Ally and Alejandro. They both bring a lot of heart to the movie.
Distorted and mangled themes?
1428 ELM: What sort of instruments and composition techniques did you employ for this movie?
CHRISTIAN DAVIS: I always try to do something fresh and original, so I spent a lot of time finding and building experimental soundscapes, things that didn’t sound like anything organic or recognizable. There are some orchestral strings and brass in the serpent theme, but I tried to distort and mangle those too so it was a bit more unique. I also created three mood themes, there is 1) Optimism 2) Sadness 3) Serpent [you can find the soundtrack here].
You’ll hear the optimism theme pretty clearly in the track “01 Sunrise.” You’ll hear the sadness theme in the track “03 Drunk & Sober.” Then the serpent terror theme you can hear clearly in track “04 Nameless Days” starting at the 1:39 mark, it’s those bending chords. And then I used these mood themes in different variations throughout the movie.
1428 ELM: Nicole is a rather moralistic character. She always seems to be good and do what is right, at least in her mind. Still, there wasn’t a lot of “heroic” sounding music for her character. Was that a conscious choice?
CHRISTIAN DAVIS: It was. Andrew and Matt didn’t want the score to be on the nose and telegraph too much to the audience. That’s why there are not really any melodies in the movie. It’s more about setting moods.
1428 ELM: Do you have any favorite demon-related films and TV shows?
CHRISTIAN DAVIS: Like everyone in the world I love Stranger Things. Also, Hereditary was super scary.
1428 ELM: The Nameless Days isn’t necessarily gory, perhaps to make it more about the atmosphere. Still, do you like any gory horror movies?
CHRISTIAN DAVIS: I have a fond space in my heart for the 90s slasher movies of my youth, Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer.
1428 ELM: With a wrong move, the main characters could die. In your opinion, what are some of the best demon-dodging techniques?
CHRISTIAN DAVIS: I’d defer to the expert rules of survival from Jessie Eisenberg’s character in Zombieland:
2. Double Tap
3. Beware of Bathrooms
4. Buckle Up
5. Travel Light
6. Don’t be a hero
7. Limber Up
8. Always Know Your Way Out
9. The Buddy System
10. Check the back seat
11. Enjoy The Little Things
We’d like the thank Christian Davis for taking the time to answer these questions, and feel free to check out The Nameless Days!
What do you think about The Nameless Days? Give us your mini-reviews in the comments section.