For those of you who aren’t avid scary movie fans, The Herd is a brutal short horror film from the minds of Ed Pope and Melanie Light. It tells the dark and disturbing story of women who are kidnapped and imprisoned for one purpose only – their milk. Described as “the first feminist vegan horror film”, it’s a damning analogy of the unseen side of the dairy industry.
Gallows mainman Laurent “Lags” Barnard wrote the score for the movie after approaching director Melanie Light with the intention of collaborating on future projects. “Mel had already made a few horror shorts and not only did I like her work but we had a similar background musically. Mel used to go to the same hardcore shows I did back in the day and as she was aware of Gallows it was less of a risk her end to let me loose on the soundtrack.
“Mel told me the premise of The Herd and sent me the script. It wasn’t just a terrifying piece of art but also a powerful analogy of the atrocities within the dairy industry. Everything the group of captive women go through in the film happens in real life to dairy cows.”
“When I saw the first edit I immediately realised that my job wasn’t to create a beautifully arranged piece of music, which is what I originally thought might happen,” Lags explains. “It was more about writing something that not only helped tell the story of the intense suffering but also injected even more discomfort into the film. At times the music gets so jarring and unsettling that it could no longer be classified as music.
“Even though The Herd is just 20 minutes there’s music from start to finish. I definitely feel my background in Gallows helped in writing the score. Our last album was very much about creating a atmosphere and to me scoring a film isn’t much different.”
You can listen to the hypnotically heavy and gloomy Death March below.
But what about the message behind the film and the role filmmakers can play in showing the grim side of the dairy industry.
“The vegan message served as a catalyst for my involvement in the film,” admits Lags. “A lot of people tend to avoid documentaries like Cowspiracy or similar news stories posted online. I wouldn’t call it ignorance but I’m definitely aware there is a sense of denial regarding where certain foods come from. The Herd addresses these issues head on without compromising its roots in the horror genre.
“I think there’s a real lack of education when it comes to understanding how animals are treated in farm agriculture. From childhood we’re force-fed this image of happy cows grazing on vast fields of green. The reality of it all is the exact opposite. The cows are normally kept in small pens. The female cows are artificially inseminated on a regular basis in order to produce milk. This produces a surplus of calves that are either kept for future milk herding (if they are female) or immediately slaughtered (if they are male). It’s something that people don’t want to know about or see and this cruel cycle is vividly depicted in The Herd.”
The Herd soundtrack is out now on limited cassette, via Venn Records. Order your copy here.