Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross’ Score Is Nauseatingly Good

Bones and All sees the reteaming of Timothée Chalamet and his Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino for a horror love story like no other. After Maren (Taylor Russell) is abandoned by her father (André Holland), she travels around the country with a fellow eater; along the way, she learns to live life on her own while trying to control her cannibalistic urges. As Maren embarks on her journey, underscoring her travels is music courtesy of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The Nine Inch Nails bandmates have created some striking film scores in the past; however, it’s what they’ve accomplished in Bones and All that stands out from their previous work.

‘Bones and All’ Sounds Romantic Yet Melancholic

Timothée Chalamet as Lee pressing his forehead to Taylor Russell as Maren in Bones and All
Image via MGM

A striking difference between the Bones and All score and the typical Reznor and Ross score is the choice in music. Trading out more of their electronic sounds, found famously in The Social Network and Soul, the duo opt for acoustic guitar as the bedrock of the score. The simple strumming of a guitar evokes a sense of loneliness that permeates Bones and All. Maren is introduced alone in the school auditorium, and she ends the film alone after Lee asks her to eat him as he dies. Maren’s condition as a cannibal isolates her from normal society; she suppresses her true nature as long as she can before it’s time to feed again. Much of the score highlights the isolation Maren feels in any given scene. The original song “(You Made It Feel Like) Home” drives home the real tragedy of this film – for Maren’s effort to settle down, she loses the one person that made home a reality.

RELATED: ‘Bones and All’ Ending Explained: Does Maren Become a Monster?

Speaking of isolation, the acoustic sounds also add to the nature of this dark road film. As Maren travels around the United States, the score elicits memories of exploration and wandering. She drifts across the country looking for any remaining family, stability, and, ultimately, a place to feel like home. Enter Lee. As the score highlights Maren’s loneliness, with Lee, it gives language to the blossoming love between the young cannibals. The use of the guitar sounds like a heartstring being strummed and connected to another. Maren spends much of her life alone; after traveling to Indiana, she meets Lee, another eater like her. With Lee, Maren doesn’t have to be alone anymore. The acoustics underscore the tender nature of love between Maren and Lee. After all, this is a romantic horror film; the acoustic guitar creates a peaceful atmosphere which is juxtaposed to the violent nature of the film.

‘Bones and All’s Soundtrack Is Disarmingly Violent

Taylor Russell as Maren in a bus looking out the window in Bones and All
Image via MGM

Though the score largely consists of acoustic, easy sounds of the guitar, the score reminds you exactly the type of film Bones and All is. As you drift from song to song, there’s something sinister underneath, waiting to strike. It lulls you into a relaxing state before it pulls out the kill, taking the acoustic sounds away and amping up the horror of this romantic horror film. What also makes this score stand out is that amidst the romantic yet melancholy acoustics are the sickening sounds of reality for this film.

For the film soundtrack, Reznor and Ross include the violent attacks from the eaters. You hear the sounds of screams as the eaters attack and feed on their prey. You hear Janelle (Chloë Sevigny) attempt to attack Maren after her daughter finds her in a psychiatric hospital in Minnesota. In “Night in the Cornfield,” you can hear Lee pleasuring his prey; as the male booth worker (Jake Horowitz) gets closer to his climax, you hear it in the score, as well as the moment Lee slits his throat. To bring it home, there are moments in the score that play the sounds of slurping blood from the eaters as they feast on their victims. Working in tandem with Guadagnino, Reznor and Ross drag the listener into the Bones and All world to experience everything that comes with it.

It could seem cruel to include such gruesome sounds to the score separate from the film, but it would cut out the journey that the Bones and All audience takes. For the lonesome wanderings of Maren, audiences of the film and listeners of the score have to confront her dark reality. The sounds from the film mixed in with the music create a symphony of a soundtrack that has no right to be as nauseatingly good as it is.

No ‘Bones and All’ Love From the Academy

Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell in Bones and All (2022)
Image via MGM

This score is unlike anything that was released in 2022. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross bring the horror, the romance, and the loneliness of this film together with a score that equally complements Bones and All as well as stands on its own two legs. In a year of excellent film scores, Bones and All stood apart, and its score captured the essence of the film in a way that’s totally original and bloody satisfying. When the Oscars shortlist for the category was released, it was disappointing to find Bones and All’s omission among the hopeful nominees for Original Score, as well as Reznor and Ross’ score for Empire of Light starring Olivia Colman. We expect the bombastic jazz from Justin Hurwitz in Babylon or classic John Williams in The Fabelmans finding their way into the mix; however, if we’re looking at the impact of a musical score to a film, Bones and All fits the bill for something original and elevates the experience of the film. Whether it’s due to a bias against the duo or the Academy isn’t a fan of slurping blood noises, we’ll never truly know.

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