‘There’s Something in the Barn’ Composer Lasse Enersen on Balancing Holiday and Horror

There's Something In The Barn

December may be the time of holiday fun and cheer, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be a few seasonal frights mixed in. Let’s face it, for every 15 Hallmark Christmas movies that premiere in December, there is one Krampus or Black Christmas. This year, the holiday horror slate includes XYZ Films’ Santa Isn’t Real and RLJE Films’ It’s A Wonderful Knife. Another title worth mentioning is Sony Pictures’ There’s Something in the Barn, which garnered attention at this year’s Fantastic Fest and Sitges Film Festival.

Directed by Magnus Marten, the film’s plot synopsis reads:

“An American family fulfills their dream of returning to their roots after inheriting a remote cabin in the mountains of Norway. However, they are in for a big surprise. An elf with a nasty temper lives in the house’s barn. When the family starts to infuriate the creature, a raw and bloody struggle for survival ensues.”

There’s Something in the Barn is a holiday, horror comedy and while it might be easy to find a cohesive vibe for the visual elements that accompany these genres, it’s a little harder to create a soundscape, as all three genres have distinctively different motifs. Marten enlisted Finnish composer Lasse Enersen for the job, who approached the film with the mindset of nothing being too big, funny, or weird. Enersen ultimately used touches of family-friendly horror movie music, Scandinavian folk music, and 80s Hollywood Christmas movie music for the film’s score. Dread Central spoke more in-depth with Enersen about all of this and more below.

Dread Central: What was your approach to beginning the process of creating There’s Something in the Barn‘s original score?

Lasse Enersen: I first read the script and immediately started hearing music in my head while I was reading. I then talked with the director, Magnus Martens, and he really wanted a family-friendly horror score that combines Scandinavian folk music, horror music, and 80s Hollywood Christmas film music. I found this idea super fun and a real challenge. The first thing I did was rent an old Scandinavian string instrument called nyckelharpa, and made loads of weird sounds with it. The barn elves are supposed to be really old, so we wanted to bring an ancient feeling to the score.

DC: What has been an essential part of your creative process when working on a horror/comedy film’s music like There’s Something in the Barn?  

LS: Getting deeply into an irreverent mindset! Nothing is too big, funny, weird, or completely bonkers with a film like this one. Norwegians have a similar absurdist sense of humor to Finnish people, so we had loads of fun talking about music and how crazy it could be. For instance, Magnus really likes his black metal, so having that sort of stuff in the score was a must also.

DC: If you can, can you talk us through the process of working on the music for There’s Something in the Barn and what audiences can expect?

LS: The big challenge was finding the exact tone of how much horror and how much comedy the score should be. The cast and crew shot a lot of gory scenes and lots of funny scenes, and in the editing, things kept changing [about] where the fine line is supposed to be. We all wanted an unashamedly entertaining score, and at the end, we found a good recipe, which is sort of like an entry-level horror movie, something I would have loved to watch when I was 13 years old. Going into the cinema expecting pure horror and gore wouldn’t probably be a good idea. But if you want to have fun and see drunken Christmas elves attacking a nice clean American family, you’re in for a treat.

DC: MovieScore Media recently released your score album for the film. Do you have any favorite tracks on the album?

LE: The first titular track is probably my favorite as it sums up the whole score. In addition, I got a request to write The Most Annoying Toy Box Music in recorded history, and I think I did a great job with that. Unfortunately, you have to see the movie, as it is not in the soundtrack album.

DC: The barn elves play an integral role in the film. Did you create any specific theme music just for them? If so, can you talk about that?

LE: The barn elves theme is actually an old famous Norwegian children’s Christmas song called “På låven sitter nissen” which means “Elf is sitting in the barn“, but turned from a cheerful happy tune into a hellish horror version. I blemished it by growling myself into a microphone, so I couldn’t speak for a few days.

DC: Without giving any spoilers away, did you have a favorite scene to score?

LE: I have to say that writing epic uplifting Christmassy moments was really fun for me. I love film scores like Home Alone, Elf, and The Polar Express, so getting to write that sort of stuff, in addition to horror and thrills, was a rare and joyful treat. There’s a scene where the family drives into the little town through some incredible snowy mountain scenery, and I could write almost a parody of cheerful Christmas movie music, tongue in cheek. And then immediately after pull the carpet under the audience’s feet and go full 180 degrees into fright and dread. The contrast made for some beguiling storytelling.

DC: There’s Something in the Barn is labeled as a horror, fantasy comedy. Horror music obviously sounds very different from comedy film music. Was it challenging mixing the two genres?

LE: It was challenging, but when I finally cracked it, it felt very natural. 

DC: You are located in Finland. Do you think your approach to scoring films is at all different from U.S.-based composers? Is your palette of sounds different because of your location?

LE: Probably yes. I’ve written scores for films in many different countries and genres, so it has made me learn to do many sorts of styles, and not be typecast into any specific genre. Finland also has the most symphony orchestras per capita in the world, and there is an amazingly high level of classical music training, which I’ve been a beneficiary of.

DC: According to your IMDB, There’s Something in the Barn is your first horror film to score. Did anything surprise you about this genre? It has been said that horror allows for greater experimentation than other genres, did you find this true?

LE: I was assisting Abel Korzeniowski in LA when he was writing Penny Dreadful TV series and I got to learn my horror chops from him. His composing teacher was Krzysztof Penderecki, whose music is almost like a foundation for horror music and is used in movies like The Shining and 2001: Space Odyssey. So I was super privileged to learn some tricks (almost) straight from the source. I do find that horror allows for greater experimentation, but I do think some things haven’t been done yet. It’s an amazingly cinematic genre, and I’m sure there are so many great new horror films coming in the years to come.

You can learn more about Lasse Enersen at http://www.lasseenersen.com/ 

There’s Something in the Barn is now available on VOD.

There's Something In The Barn Poster


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