Welcome to Right on Cue, the podcast where we interview film, TV, and video game composers about the origins and nuances of their latest works.
On Friday the 13th, 1980, humble housewife Candy Montgomery killed her friend Betty Gore with an axe, slashing her 41 times in her friend’s home. The resulting case was a lurid tale of infidelity, suburban malaise, and bizarre self-defense claims (which actually got Candy acquitted). It’s the framework for Hulu’s latest limited series based on a true crime sensation, Candy, a five-part miniseries that aired last month starring Jessica Biel as Candy and Melanie Lynskey as Betty.
Conceived by showrunner Robin Veith, Candy plants us firmly in the low-key terror and isolation of suburban housewifedom, with both Biel and Lynskey’s characters bristling against the deadening monotony of the middle-class American Dream, especially for women who’ve been told to aspire to that existence their whole lives.
Jabbing at the viewer’s subconscious throughout all five episodes is the tense, discomforting score courtesy of composer and instrumentalist Ariel Marx. A rapidly rising star thanks to tense scores in works like HBO’s The Tale and the 2021 cringe comedy classic Shiva Baby, Marx’s scores are punctuated with atonal, textured strings and woodwinds, constantly clawing at the carpeted edges of the subconscious to see what lies beneath.
For Candy, Marx’s killer command of unease is in full force, from the helter-skelter back and forth between piano and string in the eerie title sequence to the droning synths and electronic elements that spike through the veneer of normalcy Candy has set up for herself.
Marx sat down with me the week of Candy‘s airing to discuss her history as an instrumentalist and her love of strings. But most importantly, we break down the fundamental components of the “oppressive sameness” of Candy‘s spine-tingling score.
You can find Ariel Marx at her official website here.
You can watch all five episodes of Candy on Hulu. You can also listen to the score for Candy on your preferred music streaming service.