'Don't Breathe' Composer on the Daring Decision to Score the Film Using Homemade Instruments

In Don't Breathe, a house is more than a home — it's a musical instrument.

Heat Vision has an exclusive look at the unusual creation of the score for the upcoming horror film, which centers on a group of teens-turned-burglars (played by Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette and Daniel Zovatto), who make the mistake of targeting the home of a blind war vet (Stephen Lang). The blind man turns out to be a greater threat than the burglars — locking them in his home for a night of terror.

The sprawling home in an abandoned section of Detroit acts as a character in the film from writer-director Fede Alvarez. Composer Roque Baños took that into account with his inventive score, which favors homemade instruments and sounds created from things you might find around such a house.

"We started to have this crazy idea, 'Why don't we use the house itself as an instrument? Why don't we basically let the house sing the entire score for us?'" recalls Baños, who conceived of the idea with Alvarez. "So I started to seek any kind of sounds that would be heard in a house from an abandoned suburb in Detroit. Iron, tubes, pipes, wood, blowing air, the squeal of a door — it would all be a terrific palette of sounds to start building the score."

Of course, the ambitious idea was easier said than done. Fortunately, the Don't Breathe team found Tucson, Arizona-based instrument maker Alex Ferris.

"Alex would invent a musical instrument for any kind of sound that I was looking for, and so, I could use them to build a huge library of sounds that I would use as musical instruments later on," Baños tells Heat Vision.

Sight and sound — and how the characters perceive them — are particularly important for the film. There are extended stretches of silence when the teens are nearly face-to-face with the blind man, who is using his hearing to try to locate them. Making those parts work wasn't as simple as just completely cutting out the score.

"If we pay close attention to silence, we would always hear a buzzy sound, and if we paid even closer attention to this buzz, we would hear many different frequencies as part of it. I tried to reproduce as many of these frequencies as possible separately and use them in a very subtle but eerie way, to cover those moments of 'silence,'" says Baños. "Another example would be the use of a high pitch that happens when a sudden loud sound, such as a gunshot, happens close us, or the use of a low drone when we feel the floor rumbling from something moving in the house."

The film from Ghost House Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment earned strong reviews when it screened at this year's South by Southwest and is set to premiere in the U.S. on Aug. 26.

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