If you ever watch the opening scene of John Carpenter’s Halloween with the sound off, all you see is a camera slowly moving up a set of stairs. It means nothing. But when you cue that now famous and haunting track, it all comes into place.

It’s the honest opinion of this author that the music makes the movie.

John Swihart, composer extraordinaire, whose brilliant licks are featured in the recently released Michael Cera vehicle, Youth in Revolt, couldn’t disagree more.

“It takes a big group of people, there are so many people from beginning to end [making a movie] . . . I’m just the guy that comes on at the end,” Swihart says.

Youth in Revolt follows a loser on the exterior who has some winning qualities on the inside, and who strives to win the love of a beautiful, young woman.

Swihart’s contribution to that movie alone, most notably the “Nick and Sheen make Love” and “Keys” tracks, hint at deeper beauty and redeeming qualities hidden within the protagonist.

This same “loser with a heart of gold” motif reminds me of one of my favorite film protagonists, another closet winner – Napoleon Dynamite. This social reject eventually wins hearts and minds with his creativity, heart and passion.

Interestingly enough, it is in this 2004 movie that we heard some of Swihart’s breakout hits. Youth in Revolt and Napoleon Dynamite are two, among more than 40 movies, Swihart has scored. He has also put a big dent in composing for television. He recently recorded with a full orchestra for the 100th episode of “How I Met Your Mother.”

Swihart’s musical journey started in Boston. A former jazz enthusiast and metal head, he attended the renowned Berklee College of Music, where he studied production and engineering, which, Swihart says, was the closest he could get to popular music at the time. After he graduated from Berklee, he found himself working on industrial videos and commercials in a post-production studio.

“I was the audio dude, and I’d be in there, just writing away,” he says.

Even though he’s always been a huge movie fan, Swihart says that for a while he didn’t know exactly what direction he was going to go with his talents.

It was at this post-production studio though, where he met some film students from Emerson College, and he began writing music for their films. That’s where he seemed to find a niche for himself. While these days composing is a full-time job for Swihart, in his early years he worked for free.

“The money will come,” he assures, “you just have to write.”

As in other creative fields, Swihart says there is no set path for the film composer and that more often than not you go where the work is.

So naturally, to find patterns or overriding themes in the movies that he’s worked on might be a stretch. While he has scored several quirky comedies, he has done music for a couple of brooding dramas as well.

He just finished working on a movie titled The Perfect Host with David Hyde Pierce, which he describes as a darker thriller. Thrillers can be especially different, he explains, because they have a lot more layers or tracks than some of the comedies that he has scored.

On paper Swihart is very much a journeyman, proficient in several areas and genres. If, as Swihart humbly insists, the music doesn’t make the movie, it certainly provides the best layer to a cake – the icing. And as I listen to my favorite Swihart tracks from Napoleon Dynamite, or as I ingest the simple melodies from Youth In Revolt, I can’t help but feel that in addition to all his other accomplishments, some of Swihart’s music provides an elegant soundtrack and mini-anthems to the misunderstood with an inner beauty just waiting to burst out into the world.