How do you bring musical life to an iconic character like Venom and his most famous foe, Carnage? For Marco Beltrami, the composer behind Venom: Let There Be Carnage, it started with a chat with director Andy Serkis. Due to the film’s production during COVID, the duo had a virtual meeting where Serkis made his thoughts clear. “[He said] it’s all a question of degrees of the humorous buddy story and the scary parts,” Beltrami tells Nerdist. “Finding that balance was really crucial to the world.”
Despite it being a sequel, Beltrami was told to create entirely new themes for each of the characters, including Venom. “I asked if I should I be incorporating any music from the first movie, and it was pretty much a resounding, ‘We want to put together a new score for this.’ So from there, it was creating new themes for each of the characters. For Venom, for Eddie, for Cletus, for Shriek. There’s a twisted love story there in a lot of respects.”
Creating the new themes meant Beltrami could get experimental. “We were doing some really interesting things,” he said. “Carnage is such an aggressive character so we were working with creating feedback to build on that part of his character. For the Cletus love story, we had these woodwind instruments that we could play with the tuning of. It was a lot of fun to play with those different elements.” And what about Venom? “It had to be pretty recognizable,” affirms Beltrami. “Distilling the visceral response that we get watching the character. It’s a very simple theme, it’s just two notes followed by three notes so it’s easy to plug it in. People will be able to recognize that it’s Venom’s theme.”
As you can imagine, scoring a film that features extensive CGI was somewhat of a challenge, but Beltrami rose to it with his soaring and epic score. “Obviously when I started this a lot of the stuff was not finished,” the composer told Nerdist. “So it took a little bit of imagination. For instance, [with] that whole cathedral fight at the end, it was actually a little bit tough to know exactly what was happening. In a comic book movie, the music can be very cheery in a way, and it evolves as we change between who’s winning and losing. But as the film became more refined, I’d go back and make the music more refined.”
Like Serkis had pointed out to Beltrami, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a tale of two halves. There’s the comedic buddy aspect of the film, which spoke so much to audiences of the first film. But there’s also the more obvious body horror aspects of the symbiote. And the fact that Cletus Kasady a.k.a. Carnage is a mass murderer of the highest degree. Balancing those two aspects was a highlight for Beltrami.
“It makes it really fun. You’re able to change stylistically on the drop of a dime. It also allows you to be slightly over the top. You don’t have to be too subtle. It lets you stretch your wings a little bit.”
This isn’t the first horror-steeped film Beltrami has scored, though. He got his start on iconic genre films like Scream, Blade II, and World War Z. It’s a particularly ironic series of events which set him up perfectly to score Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
“I have to say, I really don’t like horror movies,” Beltrami shared. “I get scared so easily. But it’s where I learned to cut by constantly changing and adapting to different things onscreen. Going from zero to one hundred. I think that type of response is crucial for a movie like this. It has to be a ride. And I think that music is really instrumental in making that happen.”
There’s plenty of memorable moments during the movie. Beltrami has one particular sequence he’s really excited for audiences to see. “That ending sequence in the cathedral, I went to a playback and what I heard sounded great,” he revealed. “I remember really liking that scene as all the different themes come together in that moment, so that’s fun!”
The other scene that every fan will be talking about, though, comes after the credits, or at least in between them. That already iconic sequence was originally going to be scored by Beltrami, but the fates intervened. “I did write some music for it. But in the end our brilliant music editor Jim Schultz, I think he actually constructed some things from the score. It was after we were done with the sessions where everything was recorded orchestrally. And we couldn’t have another session, so that’s what they ended up doing.”
For Beltrami, Venom: Let There Be Carnage was “the kind of job that reminds you why you do what you do.” And having even a little piece of his music over that groundbreaking post-credits scene means a lot. “It’s great!” Beltrami exclaimed. “I’m really happy to be part of this world and I very much enjoyed working on it. I loved the people that I worked with on it. It was just an amazing experience.”
Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Marco Beltrami’s original score are out now!
Featured Image: Sony Pictures