The new horror film Behind You stars Addy Miller and Elizabeth Birkner as two sisters who find out that all the mirrors in their estranged aunt’s house are hidden from sight. When one of them happens upon an uncovered mirror in the basement, she unknowingly releases a malicious demon. The film was released on April 17, 2020, and is currently available on VOD. Composer for the film is Christian Davis whose previous works include Deadly Signal, Zombie Hunter, and the hit CW TV series Jane the Virgin.
Read our interview with him below!
Haunted MTL: Hello, I hope you are doing well and staying safe. First, just let me say that this musical score captured the tone of the film perfectly. Suspenseful but very reserved. It was an incredible extension of the story. Can you walk us through it?
Christian Davis: Thank you! The score for Behind You was super fun to compose and I’m really happy with how it turned out. It was a very collaborative effort with co-directors, Andrew Mecham and Matthew Whedon. There is scary stuff, there is sentimental stuff.
H: Why did you decide to become a film composer?
Davis: It was in college; I was actually pre-dental and hating it. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Through a piano lesson, I learned there was a “Commercial Music Major” with a film scoring emphasis and a lightbulb when off. I realized I could combine two things I was passionate about (film and music) into a career.
H: What piece are you most proud of?
Davis: On this film, I’m particularly proud of the song Behind You. It’s the first track on the album but actually plays towards the end of the film. I’m very comfortable doing instrumental score, but producing a song with lyrics and a singer is something I don’t do often, so it’s always a little frightening. But also, a lot of fun!
H: How did you become a part of the film Behind You?
Davis: I actually heard about it on Facebook. I saw all of the on-set photos people were posting and it looked amazing! So I reached out to Andrew Mecham (one of the co-directors) on Facebook, sent a cold DM, and told him I’d wanted to score his film. I sent him a curated reel with my best horror music, then convinced him to grab a coffee where I pitched him my idea for the score and I got the gig!
H: You have worked on horror movies before such as Deadly Signal and Nocture, do you enjoy composing for this genre?
Davis: Yes, scoring horror films is a ton of fun, because there’s so many things to you get to do that you can’t do in any other genre. Lots of dissonance, distortion and strange effects. As a composer, you get to really draw outside the lines.
H: The score, although spooky, seems to be rooted in longing. In the beginning of Behind You, there is a very sorrowful tune that lingers in the atmosphere. Every one of the main characters has lost something, whether it is innocence or a loved one. Did you keep this in mind when composing the beginning scenes?
Davis: Absolutely. The first act of the movie is very sad, very emotional. We also come back to that at the end of the film. Sometimes those scenes are harder to write because you have to practice so much restraint and not overstep on the actors’ performance.
H: Mirrors play a major role in old-world superstition. In China, Ireland, Germany, and other parts of Europe they would cover the mirrors in a home because of their supposed connections to death. These fears are linked to the very idea of spirits, that we are haunted by our pasts and those that we’ve lost. Did any of these philosophies or cultural superstitions go into your creation of the score?
Davis: Yes. In our first meeting, Andrew Mecham talked a lot about how the house, which is inhabited by a demon, needed to have a voice in the score. The mirrors in the house are all covered because that’s how the “demon/house” are able to communicate, seduce, and possess our characters. So I started thinking about how to use objects around my house to give the “demon/house” a voice in the score. We have hissing tea kettles, chainsaw engine, kitchen percussion, and bowed wood. All this to give the house a voice and also give a unique color to the score.
H: The track that plays while Beth attempts to murder Clair is one of the standouts of the whole soundtrack. It reminded me a little of Psycho, were there such inspirations?
Davis: Thank you! Bernard Hermann is always an inspiration. One of the most brilliant film composers. There is a certain “knifey psycho strings” sound that we attribute to Mr. Hermann and Psycho which we used in this score at certain jump-scare moments. I remember Matthew Whedon (one of the co-directors) often saying “give us some more knifey stuff here and here.” He was a big fan of that sound.
H: Were any violins used as a reference to Beth’s background as a violinist? I’m just asking because I thought I heard some violins in the background at one point.
Davis: There was a whole scene that ended up on the cutting room floor, where she actually played the violin. It was a really cool scene musically because I got to write a violin version of our main Behind You theme for her to play.
H: What is your biggest take away from this project?
Davis: If you come across a covered mirror, in a creepy house, leave it covered!!