In a recent interview, Heaven of Horror sat down with renowned composer Panu Aaltio to discuss his stirring musical composition for the recently released film, The Twin, available on the streaming platform Shudder. This psychological thriller, written by Taneli Mustonen and Aleksi Hyvarinen, takes viewers on a gripping journey following the tragic loss of one of Rachel and Anthony’s twin sons. The grieving parents decide to uproot their lives and move to the tranquil Scandinavian countryside with their surviving child. However, their attempts at healing are soon overshadowed by a sinister truth that Rachel unravels about her remaining son, leading her to confront malicious forces haunting their lives.
Working with Taneli Mustonen and Aleksi Hyvarinen
When asked about his collaboration on The Twin, Aaltio shared his longstanding professional relationship with director Taneli Mustonen and producer Aleksi Hyvarinen. Having previously worked together on the Finnish slasher film, Lake Bodom, Aaltio and the creative team already possessed a strong rapport. Aleksi, in fact, had been the producer for Aaltio’s very first short film score back in 2004, showcasing the depth of their connection.
The Intriguing Script and Compelling Characters
Aaltio expressed his initial attraction to The Twin’s script, highlighting the meticulous construction of the narrative through intricate details. The script captivated him from the moment he began reading and kept him engrossed until the very end. Moreover, he emphasized the poignant portrayal of the mother’s anguish, a performance brought to life by the incredibly talented Teresa Palmer.
Crafting the Sound Palette
As Aaltio delved into his preparations for The Twin, he revealed his creative approach to building the film’s unique sound palette. Drawing inspiration from the characters and their surroundings, Aaltio incorporated various elements. For instance, he integrated the percussive sound of a marble maze found by Elliot, the surviving son, as a musical motif. Additionally, Aaltio recorded eerie cello sounds and manipulated them to create chilling soundscapes that enhanced the unsettling atmosphere of the film.
Exploring Musical Freedom and Experimentation
When it came to the director’s vision for the score, Aaltio described an atmosphere of artistic freedom and experimentation. Taneli Mustonen encouraged fresh and innovative approaches, allowing Aaltio to explore new sonic territories. One particularly successful experiment involved the creation of pagan ritual music. Aaltio recorded himself reciting the death poem of Kullervo from the Finnish national epic, Kalevala, and transformed it into a haunting rhythmic chant. This unconventional technique initially seemed audacious to Aaltio, but it ultimately became their favorite track in the score.
Musical Inspirations and Cinematic Influence
To gain inspiration, Aaltio revisited films such as Hereditary and Sicario 2, which director Taneli Mustonen had mentioned during their initial discussions. However, he stressed the importance of allowing the film itself to dictate the musical direction. Aaltio firmly believes in starting each project with a blank slate, enabling the score to grow organically in response to the film’s narrative and emotions.
Scores and Challenging Scenes
Reflecting on his work for The Twin, Aaltio mentioned the difficulties he encountered while scoring a challenging flashback sequence. Such scenes are inherently complex, as they condense multiple dramatic moments and emotions into a concise timeframe. Moreover, extended exposure to a scene can desensitize a composer, making it even harder to maintain a clear mindset. Nonetheless, Aaltio expressed satisfaction with the final result.
The Horror Genre and Musical Exploration
Drawing a contrast between scoring horror projects and non-horror ones, Aaltio explained how non-horror films often gravitate towards a specific musical style. In contrast, the horror genre offers endless possibilities, requiring composers to constantly push boundaries and surprise themselves and the audience. This element of surprise contributes significantly to the effectiveness in creating fear and suspense.
The Eerie Power of the Human Voice
When it comes to crafting creepy sounds, Aaltio believes that utilizing the human voice in unconventional ways yields the most unsettling results. He emphasized the significant role it played in The Twin’s score, effectively enhancing the film’s haunting atmosphere. By manipulating and distorting human vocal recordings, Aaltio achieved an otherworldly quality that sends shivers down the audience’s spines.
A Favorite Horror Film
When asked about his favorite horror film of the past year, Aaltio humbly admitted that his hectic schedule limited his viewing habits. However, he did manage to explore the highly acclaimed series Squid Game, which, although not a traditional horror genre entry, featured a wonderfully creepy and captivating score. The vocal work in the series left a lasting impression on him.
Aaltio recently wrapped up scoring the American drama film 5000 Blankets, based on a true story. The film follows a woman’s journey to find her missing husband alongside their son, resulting in a powerful movement to aid the homeless. This captivating project is set to release later this year, showcasing Aaltio’s versatility as a composer.
Panu Aaltio’s exceptional musical composition for The Twin brings an unparalleled depth to the film, heightening its atmospheric tension and captivating audiences. The collaboration between Aaltio, director Taneli Mustonen, and producer Aleksi Hyvarinen once again proves their ability to create magnificent scores that effectively serve the narrative. Aaltio’s innovative approach, meticulous attention to detail, and willingness to experiment make him a valuable asset in the world of film scoring.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. How did Panu Aaltio get involved in The Twin?
Panu Aaltio’s collaboration with director Taneli Mustonen and producer Aleksi Hyvarinen on Lake Bodom paved the way for their creative partnership on The Twin. Their longstanding professional relationship, coupled with Aleksi’s previous involvement in Aaltio’s career, established a strong foundation of trust and shared vision.
2. What was the most challenging aspect of scoring The Twin?
One of the most challenging aspects of composing for The Twin was crafting the score for the emotionally charged flashback sequence. Condensing numerous dramatic moments into a short timeframe required careful consideration to ensure the music effectively conveyed the intended impact on the audience.
3. How does scoring a horror film differ from scoring a non-horror project for Panu Aaltio?
Scoring non-horror projects often involves gravitating towards a specific musical style. However, in the realm of horror, the unexpected and surprising elements play central roles. As a composer, Aaltio finds delight in exploring uncharted territory and immersing himself in the constant experimentation required by the horror genre.
4. Did Panu Aaltio draw inspiration from any other horror films while working on The Twin?
Director Taneli Mustonen mentioned Hereditary and Sicario 2 as reference points during initial discussions. Although Aaltio revisited these films to reconnect with the themes and styles they embodied, he ultimately focused on creating a fresh and original score that aligned seamlessly with The Twin’s narrative.
5. What is Panu Aaltio working on next?
Aaltio recently completed the score for an American drama film titled 5000 Blankets, scheduled for release later this year. This thought-provoking movie, based on a true story, follows a woman’s journey to find her missing husband while igniting a powerful movement to support homeless individuals. Aaltio’s contribution to this project demonstrates his ability to captivate audiences across various genres.