October may almost be half over, but there is still a long slate of horror films to be released the rest of the month, Universal Picture’s Halloween Ends, Hulu’s Matriarch, Shudder’s V/H/S 99 and Lionsgate’s Prey for the Devil being a few of them. Another title work paying attention to is Screen Media’s The Accursed starring Mena Suvari (American Pie, American Beauty). The Accursed follows Elly (Sarah Grey) as she is asked by a family friend (Suvari) to spend a few days looking after an elderly woman (Meg Foster) living in a remote cabin. She readily agrees thinking a short trip to the woods will be a nice escape. The cabin turns out to be anything but relaxing as Elly begins hallucinating in ways that blur reality with her dreams. As the visions take over, Elly realizes that she was lured there by a demonic presence hiding inside of the woman just waiting to break free. The film was directed by Kevin Lewis, whom also directed the genre favorite, Willy’s Wonderland, which saw Nicolas Cage take on killer animatronics. One of the many reasons why Willy’s Wonderland stood out was because of the musical aspect, which found ways to make children’s jingles demented and scary. A composer named Émoi was responsible for the music of Willy’s Wonderland and he has reteamed with Lewis on The Accursed. We wanted to learn more about the music for those to films, so we conducted the below Q & A with him.
The Accursed is coming to select theaters and VOD on October 14th.

CHRIS MILLER: Last year you scored the outrageous Nic Cage horror film, Willy’s Wonderland. How did you get that job?

ÉMOI: One of the producers of the film called me (knowing I was a cult horror fanatic) and said “I’m sending you a script I think you’ll like, give it a read and get back to me.” I read it, then called him back and said “I don’t want to score this movie. I HAVE to score this movie!” To get a jump on any potential competition, I wrote “The Willy’s Jingle” that night and sent it to the director over the top of an old Chuck E Cheese commercial.

CM: What was the most memorable experience you had working on Willy’s Wonderland?

E: Composing my first feature length film during a worldwide pandemic was a unique undertaking in and of itself, but just off the top of my head – I recall feeling sick on a Friday, and telling everyone I thought I had Covid and needed to take the weekend to recover. While I was laying in bed, I wrote “Six Little Chickens”. Luckily, my illness was not Covid, so on Monday when I felt better, I took my phone (where I had recorded myself voicing all the instruments and lyrics), and I started putting it all together on practical instruments. That scene where Willy sings “Six Little Chickens” was quite a puzzle because it was shot and edited before there was ever any music. And the challenge was to write something that made sense to the scene, was the length of the scene, and also fit the movement of Willy’s mouth. When I put it all together, it fit surprisingly well. I sent it to the team and luckily the response was extremely positive.

CM: The Accursed is your second collaboration with Kevin Lewis (he also directed Willy’s Wonderland). How was your experience different with him on The Accursed?

E: I think after working together on Willy’s I earned a lot of trust with Kevin, so he gave me a lot of freedom on The Accursed. No doubt Kevin was very instrumental in the creation of the score – we were in daily communication, bouncing ideas and having a blast, but when there’s a deep trust and friendship, the process becomes very collaborative and the initial instinct to question an idea when it is first presented, transforms into an initial instinct to consider it. In our business there are a lot of agendas and ulterior motives being pushed – which inevitably creates reluctance. But Kevin and I realized after Willy’s that our only agenda is to create the best film possible, which is why we make a good team.

CM: I read on Willy’s you came up with a lot of your own lyrical songs. Did you do anything like that on The Accursed?

E: I wrote two songs for The Accursed; one is the 1950’s inspired “You Are My Baby Girl” sung by the amazing Sydney Ember, and the other was a 1990’s inspired song called “Alone I Wait”. It’s unique for a composer to handle both score and songs, so I feel very privileged to have experienced this twice in a row.

CM: How is your score on The Accursed different than all the other horror film scores out there?

E: It’s my personal belief that every musical idea under the sun has been done before – so in some way, I’m sure my score is similar to many other scores out there. With that said, I had a very unique opportunity with The Accursed in that when I received the locked edit, the film had zero temp music. Typically, all films and commercials have temporary music on them. It’s a way the production can see what kind of music fits and give the composer a direction because music is often very subjective and hard to communicate. With The Accursed, there wasn’t a single temp track or reference of any kind. Kevin was like, “Here’s the edit. Think vintage horror. Think oil painting. Think dramatic and classic. Have fun.” So to answer the question, I guess the way the score is unique is that it is completely untethered, uninfluenced, and exactly what we would have done could we have done anything we wanted.

CM: You started talking to Kevin about the score long before it was shot. Were there some initial ideas you had in the beginning that you later modified or took out? If so, can you talk about those?

E: The film opens on a young girl carving a cross into a tree. We knew we wanted a child chorus, something that sounded hymnal, but my first attempt was a little too religious sounding. So we pulled back a bit and simplified it. What mainly got modified on the music written prior to film, were the lengths of the cues and certain dynamics, but ‘You Are My Baby Girl” and “The Accursed Main Title Theme” both stayed extremely close to their demo versions.

CM: In your opinion, what makes a horror film score sound scary?

E: Dynamics. The ebbs and flows. When you are about to do something dramatic, set it up with silence. Instead of landing a stinger right on the shocking moment, let the shocking moment happen, and the stinger act as an afterthought. Nothing is more unsettling than a gut-wrenching scream, a gurgle, a grotesque impact. And then, before they get used to it, change it up and break the rules.

CM: If you and Kevin were to collaborate again, what type of movie would you like to make?

E: I think the horror genre works great for Kevin and I, but also, Kevin is like a mad cinephile with a very broad range of tastes. He loves arthouse and very submersive content. I could see us doing fantasy, action, adventure, pretty much anything except romantic comedy.

CM: Is there another composer out there that you would like to collaborate with one day?

E: I’ve become social media pals with Alexander Taylor (who most recently scored Time’s Up), and I was fortunate enough to do a podcast with him. Like me, he’s into funky instruments, dressing up, being responsive to inquiries, generous with his time and knowledge, and very supportive of his colleagues. He just seems like a very genuine dude. I listened to his work as well and was blown away.

CM: Are you a fan of horror? If so, have you watched anything lately that you really enjoyed?

E: I am a huge fan of horror, and now that The Accursed is finished I have a laundry list of films to catch up on. I will say the horror film that impressed me the most this year so far was Prey.

You can find out more about Émoi at

You can read our review of The Accursed HERE

Chris Miller | Twitter: @musiclover_8


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