There was a time in the early 2000’s when I was particularly keen on Asian horror flicks. It all started with – I kid you not – an unmarked copy of Ju-On: The Grudge which a friend brought over. We’ve watched it late at night on my shitty telly, knowing nothing at all about it. And it totally caught us off guard and terrified us down to the bones.
After that intense experience I craved for more. I’ve hunted down a whole bunch of films, such as the original Ringu, Uzumaki, Pulse (Kairo) or the episodic Three… Extremes. They were all similar in tone yet so very different from all other horror films I’ve seen until then. Watching a foreign film about an ancient curse in its Japanese language with (bad) English subtitles only adds to the overall mystery.
Another crucial one was A Tale of Two Sisters which I’ve watched all alone at night. And while it truly scared the crap out of me, what lingered on long after I’ve finished the film, was Byeong Woo Lee’s hauntingly beautiful music. Of course I had to check out his next project then, which was an acclaimed Korean creature feature that had gratuitously been compared to Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece Jaws by some sensation-seeking critics: Bong Joon-ho’s The Host (Gwoemul).
I primarily decided to tackle this score because of the gorgeous minimalistic cover art of the official Korean release (#1) that was published in 2006 for Asian markets by the composer’s own music label musikdorf. While on the other hand Milan Records came round with a quickly “spewed out” version for the rest of the world (#2). I’ve remade both to my best abilites, trying to fix some minor things on Milan’s version.
The score unfortunately isn’t on par with Two Sisters, omitting the former’s lush and sweeping waltz music. But I guess that’s not what a monster flick like The Host was asking for. What it does feature is the typical melancholy guitar sound that Lee is known for. And with “Little Hut in Snow” he even wrote a memorable little guitar lullaby that also serves as the main theme of the score. He varied it multiple times over the course of the 23-track running time, making for a diverse and worthy listening experience.