Film scores

Soundtrack review: I spit on your grave III: Vengeance is mine (Edwin Wendler – 2015)

i-spit-on-your-grave

“I spit on your grave III: Vengeance is mine”… one of the most awesome titles we’ve seen this year? I mean, I don’t even need to see the movie. This sounds like one of those titles made up in shows like “Family guy” or “The Simpsons” or in Tarantino spoof movies. But no, the movie is real and is actually the third part of a franchise. Since the events of “I spit on your grave”, Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) has been tormented by the brutal, sexual assault she endured years ago. She has changed identities and cities in order to start a new life. Following her therapist’s advice, she reluctantly joins a support group where she befriends a fellow group member. When her new friend’s murderer goes free and the tales of serial rapists haunt her, Jennifer hunts down the men responsible in order to do what the system won’t – make them pay for their crimes in the most horrific ways imaginable. Edwin Wendler wrote the score and he knows a thing or two about dark music. Edwin’s isn’t the only name that attracts me to the score. Aeralie Brighton is another name I always love to see on a film music album because her voice brings something special to any cue she features on.

The story of “Vengeance is mine” is dark and disturbing to the extreme. The main character though is someone who feels, tries to recover, tries to write wrongs and this duality makes for very interesting film music. The opening cue “Men” makes my skin crawl and puts me in a very uncomfortable mood. “Men” are the bad guys in this story and the disgust in this opening cue makes it clear. The tone changes for “Vengeace” which is a very cool rock piece I can get behind. I can imagine the main character cutting and slashing through the killers when I hear the music. Aeralie’s voice comes in like an elegy made to temper the violence in the first half of the cue. Is she voice of reason or remorse? Are her vocalizations the expression of the last shred of innocence trying to make its way through the hate? Raising questions like these is what makes for rewarding film music.

I like a score that’s made of long cues. Half of the pieces here are longer than 6 minutes so the composer has time to develop his ideas and create a layered musical canvas. We get themes like “Marla” and “Cassie” which are lighter in tone and can be taken as separate stories. Long cues like these have surprises hidden inside them like sudden bursts of energy or relentless pulses that I feel in my throat.

The suspense in “Vengeance is mine” is thick and there are moments when it gets quite insane. There’s a section in “McDylan” that I felt the need to play at full volume just to enjoy the rush it gave me. There are a lot of moments like that in this score and the fact that I felt I needed a shower when the music was over means the composer did a great job of putting all the weight and tension of the story on notes. Add to that the raw industrial sound and you get a very efficient score.

Cue rating: 85 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 24 / 67

Album excellence: 36%

Highlights:

Vengeance (feat. Aeralie Brighton)

Mcdylan

Oscar

Cole

Bolton (feat. Aeralie Brighton)

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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