Exclusive Interview: Composer Kevin Riepl Discusses Aliens Colonial Marines and Resistance: Burning Skies - Dread Central
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Exclusive Interview: Composer Kevin Riepl Discusses Aliens Colonial Marines and Resistance: Burning Skies



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Exclusive Interview: Composer Kevin Riepl Discusses Aliens Colonial Marines and Resistance Burning SkiesResistance: Burning Skies is coming on May 29th for the PlayStation Vita, and with the highly anticipated release of Aliens: Colonial Marines later this year, we decided to bring you a special treat: the inside scoop from the composer of both releases, Kevin Riepl.

Kevin Riepl is an award-winning film composer and recording artist (aka Damage Vault) writing for multiple entertainment genres. His engaging and atmospheric scores have enhanced numerous indie films such as ABCs of Death, Clemency, The Aggression Scale and Henri. In video games Riepl is best known for composing the rousing signature score for Gears of War.

Dread Central: Every famous composer has a unique story to tell about how they eventually arrived in the music industry. How were you able to turn your passion for musical composition into a highly successful career?

Kevin Riepl: Not sure how unique mine is, but I guess everyone’s story is a bit different since there is no ‘one definitive’ path to getting where you’d like to be in your life. Prior to actually working in the industry—whether it be video games or film—I was always making connections with other creatives. Before Facebook and Twitter, it was contacting them by phone or through their websites. These connections led to friendships where we both enjoyed each other’s craft, music, art, design, writing, etc. Most weren’t even in the industry yet…we were all on the same level, just talking and inspiring each other. One artist who was then hired by Epic Games ended up placing my CD in the right place at the right time. This led to them bringing me on to Unreal Tournament 2003.

During this time, I was also searching and found an already successful composer in video games and film to work for, doing some assistant work which led to co-writing on a lot of television projects and video games. So I was building up a resume with a two-pronged approach, working my own leads/connections and working for this established composer. Prior to both of these I had just moved to LA from NJ. Once in LA while working in the video game industry, I was pursuing film leads; once again, not trying to shoot to the top or solicit existing studio projects, but making connections with film guys that were at the same level as I in the industry. Whether it be directors, producers, concept artists, creature designers…anyone. I just loved the creative interaction between everyone. This led to some indie shorts, some good, some really bad ones that I’ll never speak of again. But the good ones were with directors I got along with great and those connections are still solid today and I still do work with them on whatever they create. With both video games and the films…the more and more I worked, it led to more relationships.

Ever since the beginning I realized the goal here is not to succeed, but to be happy and surround yourself with other creatives with as much passion that you have for the craft. In my experience, it’s that which leads to success. Having Facebook, Twitter and other social networks now make keeping these relationships fresh.

Dread Central: One of your newest projects is an anthology film called ABCs of Death, and you have teased your work with director Kaare Andrews in the movie for your website. Could you give us a little preview of what ABCs of Death is, how you became involved with the film and what is was like working with the director?

Kevin Riepl: ABC’s of Death is a feature comprised of 26 chapters, each helmed by a different director assigned a letter of the alphabet. Kaare Andrews was one of the 26 directors chosen for this film. I connected with Kaare while he was in production of his first feature ‘Altitude’. He is a super passionate, creative guy. We stayed in contact and when I saw the ABC thing come up with his name on it, I thought this may be a great opportunity to see if we’d work well together. We chatted briefly about what he was doing for his ‘letter’ and the direction he was looking to go with the music, and we hit it off. I think what he accomplished with the small amount of budget that was provided came out insanely awesome.

Dread Central: In addition to your numerous musical credits in the film and television industries, you’ve enjoyed a lot of success in creating original compositions for video games. How does creating music for video games differ from composing for movies and television, and which is your favorite industry in which you have worked?

Kevin Riepl: When composing for films or television, a composer is scoring to support visuals and story in a linear fashion, from start, middle to the end supporting the emotional content. With video games, you still write to support visuals and story, but you have to think vertically when writing. Forgive me if I get too specific on this topic. When I say vertical, I don’t mean vertically as in voicing or orchestration, I mean how certain layers in the piece of music will work alone and in addition to layers stacked on top of or faded in and out of other layers of music. Before writing, you have to think how every piece you write will interact with every piece you write. As video games become more advanced with storytelling and technology a lot of developers want the music to become as interactive as possible, meaning the music needs to contour the path of the player, making it seem that it is scored like a film. In my opinion not any composer can do this. It is a GREAT asset to developers and publishers if the composer scoring their game is adept and experienced in approaching composing like this.

Exclusive Interview: Composer Kevin Riepl Discusses Aliens Colonial Marines and Resistance Burning Skies

Dread Central: One of your newest projects is Alien: Colonial Marines which will act as a sequel to the highly popular film series. How did you approach your compositions within this game; did you draw on any certain inspirations, and did you feel any added pressure to please the loyal Aliens fans?

Kevin Riepl: Well, I’d like to call it my newest & oldest. The musical approach to this game was simple in my opinion. The story is canonical so why not have the music reflect this. The inspirations were definitely Jerry Goldsmith’s work in Alien and James Horner’s work in Aliens. Depending on where the story leads in the game is how I approach the music for that area. If it’s reminiscent of something from Alien, the music has more Goldsmith influence; if it’s a story point from Aliens, the music is influenced by Horner. New areas or story aspects are pieces I created using all the influences in the Aliens universe. I don’t feel any pressure. Being a HUGE fan of the franchise, I think I’m giving myself the most pressure. I know I won’t please everyone, but if I stay true to what Aliens is, fans will be happy…I think.

Exclusive Interview: Composer Kevin Riepl Discusses Aliens Colonial Marines and Resistance Burning Skies

Dread Central: You also created 40 minutes worth of music for the upcoming PlayStation Vita game Resistance: Burning Skies. How did you come to be involved in this project, and what do you hope your lasting contribution to the game will be perceived as?

Kevin Riepl: I was working on another Vita title for Sony at the same time Resistance: Burning Skies was looking for composers. I was thrown in the mix because the team on Resistance: Burning Skies was checking out and liking my material for this other game. While I was creating a demo pitch, this other vita title was put on temporary hold. That freed me up to work on Resistance: Burning Skies at the time, and hoping they’d like my pitch. They did and due to the extreme turnaround time (30 days) they wanted to use 2 composers. It was me and fellow composer and friend, Jason Graves, an awesome composer. We had a blast working on the same title and our styles complemented each other well. I always want my lasting impression on any project to be perceived as a quality score that did its job working with the story and enhancing the experience of the viewer/gamer. With Resistance: Burning Skies it is no different. Jason and I were able to create a traditional orchestral score for this episode in the franchise, pulling influences from as far back as action films from the ‘50s. I think people will enjoy the music and find it to be an integral character in the game.

For more information you can visit Kevin Riepl Music Online.

Exclusive Interview: Composer Kevin Riepl Discusses Aliens Colonial Marines and Resistance Burning Skies

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The Open House Review – Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here



Starring Dylan Minnette, Piercey Dalton, Patricia Bethune, Sharif Atkins

Written by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote

Directed by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote

Mere weeks, even days, after effusively beating Netflix’s original horror content drum (The Babysitter, Before I Wake, Creep 2), I’m here to confirm that The Open House is emptier than an vacant bomb shelter. Cold, unappealing and thoughtlessly plotted to the point where “generic” would have been an improvement. From the moment we’re welcomed into Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote’s scripted imprisonment, it’s nothing but loose floorboards and busted plumbing. The home invasion genre has rarely been navigated with such little attention to detail, asking for our suspension of coherent storytelling early, often, and without earning the right to be deemed mindless genre fun. Not even Ty Pennington could save this extreme renovation disaster.

Dylan Minnette plays Logan Wallace, a track star and student who must find closure after watching his father fall victim to a fatal car accident. It is his mother Naomi’s (Piercey Dalton) idea to spend a little time away from their suburban home – escape those painful memories – so they retreat to her sister’s luxurious mountain getaway. The catch? It’s in the process of being sold and open houses are on the regular, so Naomi and Logan must vacate their temporary premises on certain days. It’s after one of these very showings that Logan begins to notice slight changes around the house, and he fears that an unwanted visitor may be in their midst. Guess what? He’s right.

To understand how little The Open House cares about conscious blueprinting, just read the poster’s tagline. “You can’t lock out what’s already inside” – right, but you could have prevented them from coming in, or checked the house to make sure they weren’t squatting, or explored numerous other possibilities to avoid this scenario. The mansion’s realtor allows prospective buyers to come and go but it’s not her job to make sure no one’s hiding in the basement? Naomi can’t even keep track of the *single* visitor she lets look around the house? It’s infuriating to see so many people neglect safety out of forced coincidence because the script couldn’t rationalize the killer’s entry any other way – a confounding strike one.

This is also a film that admits no reasoning for why its own murderer has targeted the Wallaces, or why he stokes a violent fetish when it comes to open houses. We never actually see his face, just his imposing handyman-looking attire, nor do we savor any kind of tangible backstory (his family died during their own open house and he suffered a psychotic breakdown – just give me *something*). His undefined form never demands curiosity like John Carpenter’s “The Shape” once did, because scripting is nothing more than bullet notes for basic horror movie necessities. Here he is, your bad guy – too bad he’s introduced without fear, handled without originality and unable to characterize beyond torturous kidnapper dotted lines. He’s just, you know, a guy who sneaks into open houses and kills – COMPLETE WITH A FINAL PAN-IN ON AN OPEN HOUSE SIGN WHEN HE MOVES TO HIS NEXT TARGET [eye roll into infinity].

Every scene in The Open House feels like an afterthought. “Ah, we need a way to build tension – how about a senile local woman who lives down the street and wanders aimlessly into frame?” Overplayed and in no way suitable to most her inclusions, but sure. “Oh, and we need inner conflict – what about if the breaker-iner steals Logan’s phone and frames him for later acts?” I mean, didn’t Logan canonically lose his phone even before Naomi’s mid-shower water heater issues – but sure, instant fake tension. “How are people going to believe the killer is always around and never blows his cover – think they’ll just buy it?” No, we don’t. Worse off, his cat-and-mouse game is dully repetitive until a finale that skyrockets intensity with jarring tonal imbalance. This closing, dreadful end without any sort of redemptive quality. More abusive than it is fulfilling.

If there’s anything positive worth conveying, it’s that Minnette does a fine job shuffling around as a character with severe sight impairment. The killer makes a point to remove his contacts as a final “FUCK YOU,” just to toy around a bit more, and Minnette frantically slips or stumbles with nothing more than foggy vision. Otherwise, dialogue finds itself ripped form a billion other straight-to-TV Logo dramas about broken families, no moment ever utilizing horror past a few shadowy forms standing in doorways after oblivious characters turn away. You can’t just take an overused subgenre and sleepwalk through homogenized beats…case and god-forsaken point.

Even as a streamable Netflix watch, The Open House is irredeemable beyond fault. The walls are caving in on this dilapidated excuse for home invasion horror, benefiting not from the star power of a temperamental Dylan Minnette. I have seen most involved players here in far better projects (Minnette’s stock has rightfully been skyrocketing, Matt Angel in The Funhouse Massacre, etc), but this is bargain bin theatrics without a fully formed idea. A nameless villain, doomed nice guy (Sharif Atkins), woefully unaware plot advancement – all the worst cliches found in one rage-quit worthy effort. Anyone who makes it through deserves an award…or a dunce cap.

  • The Open House


Unless you’re irrationally afraid of cold showers, The Open House fails to deliver on a premise that can be summed up by no more than two lines of text.

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Michael C. Hall Buried in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary



Now here’s an audio book we can REALLY get behind! Entertainment Weekly is reporting that former “Dexter” star Michael C. Hall will be narrating the first ever unabridged recording of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Sometime’s audio is better!

Readers have been asking for this audiobook for a very long time,” Stephen King said in a statement. “I know the listening experience will be worth the wait with Michael as narrator.

We’re thrilled to finally bring Pet Sematary to King’s audiobook fans,” Simon & Schuster Audio president and publisher Chris Lynch added. “Michael C. Hall is a perfect match for this timeless story, which has long deserved an unabridged production.

The unabridged audiobook of Pet Sematary will be released by Simon & Schuster Audio on March 27. Speaking of Hall… you know he would make a pretty friggin’ good casting choice to play Victor Pascow in the upcoming Pet Sematary remake. Just sayin’.


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Saw-inspired Game Play With Me Sets a Trap on Steam



Saw fans have a lot to be happy about right now. In addition to Jigsaw being teased for Dead by Daylight, a new Saw-themed game called Play With Me has launched on Steam, and although it’s not officially connected with the franchise in any way, developer Airem promised that they created a videogame which looks and plays as though it were made by Jigsaw himself. As you can tell from the trailer and screenshots, the production values and overall quality of Play With Me appear to be considerably higher than most other indie horror games released on Steam, and you’ll probably be very happy to see that Airem took the time and effort to create stylized hand drawn environments rather than using purchased assets from the Unity Store.

The killer behind the sinister traps in Play With Me is known as the Illusion, with the player taking control of investigative journalist Robert Hawk as he tries to fight his way through a series of sick and twisted obstacles created by the lunatic. The voice acting in the trailer was a little cheesy, although we see at 1:09 that the player will be tasked with using a kitchen knife to cut open a dead body (presumably to retrieve an item hidden in the cadaver’s stomach), which is not an image you’ll be forgetting anytime soon.

IQ Publishing are offering a 15% discount off Play With Me for those who purchase the game before January 24, so Saw fans might want to mark that deadline in their calendars and purchase it from Steam before the time is up. After all, it can’t be worse than Konami’s awful official Saw videogames.

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