Critics have called Alice Lowe’s new slasher flick, Prevenge, everything from maniacal to funny to subversive and brilliant. I’m happy to report the same praise applies to the film’s score, a compelling collection of giallo-referencing, synth-driven cues created by the talented duo Toydrum (UNKLE folk Pablo Clements and James Griffith).
Just as Lowe’s film — about a pregnant woman whose nascent fetus might be compelling her to kill — has bouts of levity and darkness, so does Toydrum’s score. It appears to count as inspiration Goblin’s music for Dario Argento’s Italian horror films, as well as some of the quiet foreboding Cliff Martinez conveys so well through ambient-electronic means.
I’ve been listening to it on repeat on my subway commutes, and it strikes me that even if it weren’t tied to any real film at all, Toydrum’s score would be a great standalone instrumental album. (Albeit one with a story that’s particularly off-the-wall and with a firm horror streak.)
There are moments of immense ambient bliss, such as that experienced on “This Is What I Really Look Like.” The synths are airy, and even sweet and delightful, as they roll over a bassy, pulsating rhythm section that creates a tension between the two competing ideas of comforting tranquility and high-suspense.
“Ruth’s Theme (Cemetery-Yoga)/Visions Of (Pt. 2)” is another track with a similar tension. The first in the pair of cues uses revelatory glassy synths with chord progressions that relay the hopefulness of M83’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. “Visions” then brings in a table saw’s worth of buzzy anxiety that suffocates the earlier sense of hope in a sea of paranormal paranoia.
Things get intense on “Fury, Part 1 and 2,” which begins with a Mezzanine-era Massive Attack-style backbeat whose dark, hypnotic sludge is offset by a histrionic synth wail. That gives way to a passage with a dirty, serpentine synth arp and a suspenseful rhythm section. The heart beats quickly even if the drums don’t.
On “Biological Clockwork (The Walk),” Toydrum serves another piece of intensity. The sounds are metallic and ethereal — even spectral. Dark synth stabs hide creaky doors, and it all builds up to an excited monosynth arp and fuzzy chord hits. It ends with the arp muted and chunky. You can hear the slap of it as the moaning darkness dies beneath it.
The score closes with a song by someone else: A sweet piece of dissonance called “Children of Love” by Paul Synnott. It’s a fitting end. The cue is a delicate, even happy piece on the surface, but as it progresses the pianos, organs, and synths all seem to deteriorate before our ears. If we’re going to be snuffed out, this type of bliss is a great way to go.
In essence, the Prevenge soundtrack kills it.
The soundtrack is available now from Lakeshore Records/Invada on iTunes and other platforms. Prevenge will get a limited release in the U.S. this Friday. If you’re in New York, you can see it tonight with Lowe in-person at IFC.