You may not have heard of newcomer, Daniel Stisen, but after watching Saban Films’ latest revenge tale, Last Man Down, one thing is for sure, you will not want to get on his bad side. Let’s just say he could give Schwarzenegger a run for his money. And that’s what makes Last Man Down a bloody good time. Directed by Fansu Njie from a script he co-wrote with Stisen and Andreas Vasshaug, Last Man Down centers on John Wood (Stisen), a man who chose to leave civilization following a global pandemic and the brutal murder of his wife. Carrying the potential cure, Maria (Olga Kent) is hunted by violent mercenaries. After stumbling upon John’s cabin, the two must team up to fight off the lethal threat together. Alexander Arntzen serves as the film’s composer, pushing the intensity to the next level with his score. Arntzen even incorporates the sounds of a cocking shotgun into his vast array of musical compositions. Below Alexander dives head first into the music world of Last Man Down.
Wicked Horror: What kinds of instruments did you find yourself leaning towards for Last Man Down? Were they completely different than your last film, Initiation?
Alexander Arntzen: Very much different! With Initiation, it was mostly an electronic, dark and twisted Score with some highlights of orchestral instruments. Last Man Down is mostly the opposite. Far more traditional scoring instruments such as strings, brass, woodwinds, & percussion, all supplemented by electronic elements such as synth basses and distorted pads here and there to give it an edge.
Wicked Horror: In the scene where John escapes on the ship and the siren starts to go off, it’s almost like that was interwoven with your score. Did you work specifically with the film’s sound designer on this scene to make sure everything flowed together right?
Alexander Arntzen: I do think there was already some temp SFX in the scene before I started scoring it. So in that sense, I did have a strong idea of what sounds were already at play, and could work around them to accentuate the music in the best ways possible without distracting from what was already there. Since the sirens have a predictable pattern to them, I knew I could write something with more flow and melody between them to match it well on screen. It’s always a dance with Score & Sound so you just have to learn how to work well together or else it can get a little chaotic.
Wicked Horror: The flashback scenes have a very amped up feel to them. Did you score all of these scenes together to keep the same magnitude, or did you skip around?
Alexander Arntzen: Yes! Funny enough, at one point in the edit, the film had pretty much all those flashbacks as one long scene but then Fansu (the director) decided to break them up earlier in the film. But I had already scored the scenes before that change took place. So it was just a matter of relocating those cues and subtly adjusting the starts and ends of them to fit the new edit.
Wicked Horror: When the soldiers first show up at John’s house looking for Maria, there is a distinct chord striking sound. What did you use for this sequence?
Alexander Arntzen: Great ear! I used a sample library called Metropolis Vol. 3 which includes very visceral and rhythmic orchestral phrases, in particular the string lines. Those patches were a key element in letting the audience know when the protagonists might be in danger or that the bad guys were nearby and ready to strike.
Wicked Horror: You have scored a lot of horror films, why do you think your score resonates so well within that genre? Has this been on purpose?
Alexander Arntzen: Ironically, I am a huge scaredy cat when it comes to watching horror movies. Gotta watch them with the lights on! Perhaps my music resonates well with the genre because I am so deeply affected by them, and from that I can create sounds and atmospheres and ideas that at their core come from a place of genuine terror in what I am watching. I try to be a sonic mirror to what I see on screen and create music that hopefully returns the horror I experience in kind to the audience.
Wicked Horror: You had another horror film, Behemoth, come out recently. Can you talk a little about your score for that film?
Alexander Arntzen: That score was so much fun to create! Peter (the director) really wanted me to “go for it” in terms of creating a really wicked and diabolical Score. It was in some ways similar to Initiation in terms of a more electronic & synthetic soundtrack. But it had far more over the top elements like a reversed satanic choir and straight up atonal elements that get wilder, warped, and more distorted as the movie descends into madness.
Wicked Horror: You are scoring 3 Days Rising, which is a horror thriller that re-imagines Edgar Allan Poe’s masterpiece, The Fall of the House of Usher starring Peter Greene, Mickey Rourke and Ice-T. Where are you at in the scoring process for this film?
Alexander Arntzen: I am indeed! The scoring process has been delayed in part due to re-shoots that still have to be done in order to lock picture. Hopefully I’ll be getting officially started on it right after Thanksgiving!
Wicked Horror: When do you think 3 Days Rising will get released?
Alexander Arntzen: I actually just spoke with Craig (the Director) and the goal would be to have the finished film by February or March. After that, it would be off to festivals, and then eventually distribution. So probably look out for it late 2022, or early 2023!
Wicked Horror: This Halloween season, what horror films are you watching?
Alexander Arntzen: I have been a big fan of the Saw franchise and the Soundtrack by Charlie Clouser for years, so I’ll probably revisit those of these weekends when I have some downtime!