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Soundtrack review: Ave Mater (Simon Kolle – 2016)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Ave Mater (Simon Kolle – 2016)

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“Ave Mater” (or “Vilsen”) is a 2016 Swedish horror film. Several dead bodies have been found in Gothenburg striking fear into the city’s population. We follow Goran Lidman who will head the task of tracing the offender. Clues lead to suspicions of an occult group. The former reverend Gabriella, who has her own reasons for wanting to stop the killings, offers Lidman her help. As Lidman embarks on an involuntary collaboration he must reluctantly accept a world beyond his own understanding in order to stop the perpetrator of the killings. Simon Kolle wrote the score.

The movie opens with “Main theme and Gabriella” which is a choral theme, a religious incantation that doesn’t make think of anything evil; the cello solo that follows is beautiful and if this is the blend between the two turn this cue into a chamber orchestra piece with a choir. It’s very well done as I can almost feel the cold from the stone walls around me. The choral main theme comes back in “Prologue and killed int he garage” and I like how the choir suddenly turns menacing and dangerous to support a manic string section; the composer uses the choir to add to the tension. As the main story in the movie is the occult, Simon Kolle goes on with both the choir and the cello to express that musically. I must admit the music is alluring and I want to know more, the composer manages to infuse his cues with the fascination of the occult.

When the occult isn’t present in the movie and the music has to deal with suspense and investigations the composer went for a simple and dark undertone that to me sounds very comfortable; there’s electronic sounds, there are melodies, and every now and then a cue that makes me want to turn the volume up like “Attack at home” which is wonderfully manic and a big change of pace as the stabbing strings and a very intelligent little vocal insert that sounds like people gasping for air show me a composer who is not afraid to experiment. It’s little things like the way Simon Kolle uses the voices and choir throughout this score that make me want to pay attention to his future works. The way he side steps generic music and filler cues also make me really enjoy his composition. There are little exciting and unexpected nuggets of music in almost every cue. It might be my vivid imagination inspired by the music but the way “A slit throat” is constructed. sounds to me like the blood quietly flowing out of that throat.

I can’t put the music into one category; it’s not scary, not all of it anyway, it’s not emotional, although that cello motif and ambient pieces like “Stitches and one more biscuit” try to make me feel something. I also can’t fault the score because I am enjoying the composer’s experiments; I am curious what the next cue will bring and I like to be surprised by his music. Call me crazy but there were moments when I felt a gust of Hitchcock passing through this score, better said a gust of Bernard Herrmann like suspense. All in all “Ave mater” is an interesting listen on its own.

Cue rating: 82 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 17 / 54

Album excellence: 31%

Highlights:
Main Theme and Gabriella
1975: The Prophecy
Attack at Home
What About Her
Showing True Faces
End Credits: Ave Mater

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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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