Once upon a time David Julyan was Christopher Nolan's go-to composer. Julyan's style is so identifiable and worked so well in films like Memento, Insomnia and The Prestige. He flexed his horror chops for The Descent but was still able to maintain his brooding style. For Cabin In The Woods we can tell the composer is having fun, but still manages to produce an extremely effective score. There is just a sense of dread within Julyan's music. He can be melodic if he wants to or in some cases the music just exists and builds in atmospheric ways. Here he does give us something tangible versus say The Prestige which definitely frustrated some people's listening experience (even though the score worked perfectly within the film).
The music here is dreary as can be expected, but it's extremely atmospheric. The score takes its time to build into something. You can tell different layers are very quietly added in and out. Then we take an initial plunge into some intense music. Music that has an extreme weight and hits you like rolled up rug giving you a thud after thud. Then the score takes a turn for the melodic while still maintaining its thumping intensity. Swirling strings come in and create quick chaos, but before you know it they're gone and it's back to atmospheres. For the final act Julyan does ramp it up and the music will rattle you. The music never onslaughts the listener and he somehow manages to inject an emotional elegance to the whole package. In the end we wrap up with that signature David Julyan afterthought. Every score of his ends very similarly, and it's haunting and beautiful at the same time.
This is not a gritty horror score, nor can it really be a horror score. At times it'll be horror and at other times it takes a thriller aspect. It can be lush and soothing, or it can be aggressive and uncomfortable. This is a prime score working itself over you as you take plunges deeper and deeper. In a genre full of cliches and boring scores this is truly a remarkable achievement. It's so well executed that I will listen to this many times over. It's very rare for me to return to a horror score, ever. I've always dubbed The Ring by Hans Zimmer to be the truly last perfect horror score, but Cabin In The Woods comes pretty damn close to perfection.