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Soundtrack review: Prevenge (Toydrum – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Prevenge (Toydrum – 2017)

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A pitch black, wryly British comedy, PREVENGE follows Ruth, a pregnant woman on a killing spree that’s as funny as it is vicious. It’s her misanthropic unborn baby dictating Ruth’s actions, holding society responsible for the absence of a father. The child speaks to Ruth from the womb, coaching her to lure and ultimately kill her unsuspecting victims. Struggling with her conscience, loneliness, and a strange strain of prepartum madness, Ruth must ultimately choose between redemption and destruction at the moment of motherhood. PREVENGE marks the directorial debut from Alice Lowe, who is a true triple threat, writing, directing, and acting in the film during her own real-life pregnancy. Toydrum wrote the score.

I was vaguely familiar with Toydrum before this score since they were part of the eclectic band UNKLE but an opening cue that’s almost all synth like “Intro” goes a long way into making me connect with the musicians that wrote it; it’s the calmest, most pioneer like of synth motifs that goes even earlier than my beloved 80s and I am enjoying it. It was just a warmup as the synths go full force on the next cue “Biological Clockwork (The Train)”; “Prevenge” is shaping up to be quite the insane score but with a story like this I guess it makes sense. I am listening to an electronic experiment that as the score goes on becomes quite addictive; I am curious to hear what comes next, I am curious about each cue and it feels like a race through a dark maze, a race from which I can take breaks when ambient cues like “Logical clock” come. “Fury parts 1 and 2” go back into psycho frantic mode and I just can’t look away as the music excites me and gets my adrenaline pumping. It’s one of the more extreme EDM moments of the score but I don’t mind. There are also the weird vocal inserts at the beginning of some of the cues, inserts that I imagine suggest the evil unborn baby that’s controlling the pregnant woman.

The central piece of the score is the Twin Peaks level weird “Always with you”; it’s the most psychedelic cue of the score and once again it’s fascinating to listen to because it has the electronic elements and because you don’t hear a cue like this every day. I also feel the need to remark the cue titles which are very complex and usually include an alternate title. It’s all about the atmosphere with “Prevenge” and the composers crafted it to match the unusual premise of the movie. Any discussions are in vain when a retro electronic motif kicks in because the 80s dark synth sound is my favourite. The music gets almost visceral in a cue like “Climbing up the walls” as the uncomfortable and tense sound effects give me that sensation of unease and impatience.

“Prevenge” is one of the stranger scores I’ve heard this year; there is a method to the musical madness though and I applaud what Toydrum did here. Uncomfortable as it gets sometimes the music is here to support the story and it makes even more sense on the context of the movie. For me it all worked since it’s ultimately a dark electronic ambient texture that tickled by synth nostalgia bone. The music made me feel and even if they weren’t nice feelings, this standalone listen is something a film music or music fan in general should experience even if only from curiosity. I have rarely heard hormonal imbalance and mental instability put so well into music.

Cue rating: 87 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 22 / 46

Album excellence: 48%

Highlights:
Biological Clockwork (The Train)
Logical Clock
Fury Pt 1 & 2 (Rework)
Crazy Bitch / Hormonal Bliss
Biological Clockwork (The Walk)
Always with You (Pt 2) / Ruth’s Theme (The Cliffs)
Children of Love (End Titles) (Paul Synnott)

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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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