There’s nothing creepier than black-garbed, bible quoting religious cultists dwelling in the rural hinterlands, as the genre of pseudo-Amish horror has proven with such brethren as DEADLY BLESSING and infinite entries of the CHILDREN OF THE CORN series. But when you’ve got an assortment of string and percussion instruments ripping your spinal chord out with the finesse of a rusty wood chipper, then that congregant’s screaming, shivering voice achieves a whole other level of musical fright. On that note, Anton Sanko’s score for THE DEVIL’S HAND can be welcomed as the most insidious member of a musical congregation that includes James Horner and Jonathan Elias.
A composer who’s proven he can swing from indie dramas and comedies like RABBIT HOLE and DELIRIOUS into full-out terror with THE POSSESSION, JESSABELLE and OUIJA, Sanko goes for grim, rustic blood like never before as he tries to ferret out which one of five, nice sweet sect girls will turn out to be the Anti-Christ, who’s of course due by prophecy to fully take over the survivor’s body in New Bethlehem at the stroke of midnight.
The rapidly dying digits of the decent DEVIL’S HAND give Sanko a powerful opportunity to mix the profane and the sacred in the form of shrieking sound masses and melodic empathy for the pre-cursed. Twisting about rural instruments so they’re far more part of hell than ersatz upstate New York, Sanko creates a chilling, slowly drawn string quintet sense of isolated, feminine vulnerability, not only going up against a seeming supernatural force, but also the pain of family abandonment – a very real emotion that cult kids go through when they’re ostracized from their unbending communities. Piano and a ghostly female voice play nice homage to the likes of ROSEMARY’S BABY while slowly plucked, hit and otherwise tortured dulcimers, autoharps and zithers merge into razor sharp dissonance. The result is real nightmare stuff, the kind of music that should most definitely not be listened to at night for fear of conjuring monsters in the mind. Yet there’s enough thematic, and thankfully melodic content here to keep pulling the listener towards the darkness in which extremism dresses in body and sprit for all of his sanctimony.
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