Review by Jonathan Broxton
Full Review at MovieMusic UK (click here)

A suburban thriller directed by Tim McCann and starring Johnny Messner, Johnathon Schaech and Loren Dean, The Poker Club is the story of four regular guys who get together every week who get together to smoke cigars, drink beer and play cards. One night, however, their weekly get together is interrupted by a home invader, and things go from bad, to worse, to even worse, when they accidentally kill the burglar, and then realize he might not have been alone.

The score for The Poker Club is by young composer Evan Evans, who has actually been scoring low-budget and independent films since the late 1990s, but has never before had any of his music released on a commercial record label. Evans’ music consists mainly of sinister thriller music, with baleful string lines and tinkling, unnerving piano and harpsichord chords keeping the listener firmly on edge. For a great deal of its running time, the music barely rises above a whisper, content to keep its distance, creating an oppressive atmosphere or tension and dread, but never entering the realms of pure horror.

It’s the kind of music that someone like Howard Shore, or Christopher Young, would write for a film such as this, and that is most definitely intended to be a compliment. When the music does rise to take center stage it impresses: “The Warehouse” uses a pounding piano and chaotic percussion combo to deadly effect; “The Plan” has a darkly operatic sound that is both beautiful and fearsome; “Death and Remorse” has a thick, harsh atmosphere filled with dissonant chords. Later, cues such as “Hot Pursuit” explode into vivid orchestral action, while the conclusive “Bases Loaded” has a sense of impending doom through its staccato phrasing and low-register instrumental performances.

This is yet another impressive release from Mikael Carlsson’s MovieScore Media label, whose ability to identify and release music by talented young composers is second to none. Recommended.

Rating: ***½