Panic Room

Panic Room

With its central story line of a woman trapped in her home, shrewdly fighting off a band of equally determined intruders, <I>Panic Room</I> hearkens back to thrillers like <I>Wait Until Dark</I> and others. But in the playful hands of director David Fincher, it's a story whose technology--be it onscreen or in or behind the camera--is considerably more than mere plot point; it's a turnkey to ratchet the tension to almost nerve-wracking levels. Composer Howard Shore is Fincher's masterful musical accomplice in the caper, tightening the screws with swirling, unearthly orchestral flourishes, then hammering home the action with massive blasts of bass and percussion. Where the Oscar<sup>ョ</sup>-winning <I>Lord of the Rings</I> displayed the maturity of his dramatic writing, the composer's work here is an exercise in sheer psychological manipulation that, like that of Bernard Herrmann before him, succeeds less by melodic conceits than it does in the dark, almost subliminal power of Shore's orchestral writing and arranging. Though the Master would've likely never admitted it, this is music that would've done Hitchcock proud. <I>--Jerry McCulley</I>