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The Hills Run Red by Frederik Wiedmann

The Hills Run Red

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 The Hills Run Red (Soundtrack)  by Frederik Wiedmann








The Hills Run Red (Soundtrack) by Frederik Wiedmann

The Hills Run Red
Composed by Frederik Wiedmann
Varese Sarabande Records (2009)

Rating: 8/10

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“...Wiedmann’s expertise in the technical and orchestrational aspects of film scoring are on display in this score, and his ability to balance mystical beauty and terror are admirable.”

The Hills Run Red With The Sound of Music
Review by Marius Masalar

I’ll admit that I went into THE HILLS RUN RED thinking I was in for another aural assault of rumbling synths, wailing dissonances, and uncomfortable things done to innocent instruments. It turns out that I was actually very close to having my expectations fulfilled, as director Dave Parker admits in the liner notes that he initially wanted a typical atonal soundscape for a score. Then he met composer FREDERIK WIEDMANN, whose skills at producing evocative, melodic scores changed his mind. So instead, we get an unexpectedly lush and melodic score, with a degree of sensitivity and orchestrational creativity that rivals the best of Christopher Young’s work.

Instead of relying purely on noise to resolve the tension and horror necessary for this score, Wiedmann creates an uneasy sense by employing an atypical ensemble to perform his score: one including dulcimers, string drums, a profusion of woodwind instruments, and a viola section that’s larger than the string section. The resulting shifted balance establishes the mood without needing to resort to cheaper tactics. It also does a fine job of indirectly addressing the film’s premise of vengeful rednecks and the creepy protector figure of Babyface without being too blatant or stereotypical about it.

“In 1982” (1) introduces us to the textures we’ll come to be familiar with in this score. Although the mood is clearly sinister, there’s an unpretentious sensitivity about the music that elevates it above much of its competition. The woodwind and string solos here and in the character theme “Alexa” (3) further demonstrate this trait, and it continues to be present throughout the score. Even in the more aggressive “Babysteps” (2), there’s a sense of tasteful restraint in the sound.

Though the ensemble is primarily acoustic, several of the more upbeat tracks — including “Flash Frames” (5), and “Death Rattle” (9) — incorporate some modern electronic rhythms. They remain quiet though, rarely overpowering the organic elements of the ensemble, with the exception of “Desiderio” (10) which presents an interesting blend between the preceding musical flavours and a very compelling slow rock environment. The addition of haunting female vocals in this track and others, provided by the talented Ayana Haviv and Katrin Wiedmann, adds a mystical touch to the already-rich soundscape.

Though there are a number of purely atmospheric tracks, “The Ugly Truth” (8), “Wilson Wyler Concannon” (12), and “Female Bondage” (17) among them, the album is well arranged and there is hardly ever a dull moment. As the score progresses, there is a gradual deconstruction of the music into a more uneasy, broken sound that mirrors the progression of despair in the story. The film is also very much about obsession, which is underscored by an increasingly prevalent repetitive pulse brooding in the low ends of the soundscape.

By the time we reach “Smoke House” (20), Wiedmann is unleashing the full force of his ensemble’s might upon us, and the result is a stunningly adept tail end to the score. Here, the electronics begin to break in more obviously, disrupting the sound in interesting ways, but they remain subtle enough to keep the spotlight on the organic instruments.

Ayana Haviv’s powerful and beautiful vocals make a spectacular return to the forefront in “Phantasmagorial Holocaust” (23), where they float effortlessly overtop the shifting sounds beneath her. I only wish that this track had been placed as the final one on the score, because “Babyshower” (24) seems somehow flat after such a wonderful build, and I was left with a sense of deflated expectation….not the best way to close a score.

Fans of Christopher Young’s most melodic and precise horror scores will have much to admire here in FREDERIK WIEDMANN’s work, though unfortunately his efforts never quite reach the level of Young’s in terms of being memorable, and so some of the score passes without leaving much of an impression. As does the film, which critics have been fairly unimpressed with, accusing it of going through all the correct motions but producing an uninspired and pedantic re-hash of things we’ve all seen before.

Nevertheless, Wiedmann’s expertise in the technical and orchestrational aspects of film scoring are on display in THE HILLS RUN RED, and his ability to balance mystical beauty and terror are admirable. Mention must also be made of the mixing of the score, which is perhaps less saturated in reverb than most and is therefore absolutely pristine and balanced, despite the unusual ensemble arrangements. I am very thankful for this score because it, like Hostel II before it, is a good demonstration of the power of a sophisticated orchestral score in a horror film; it shows that you can handle horror without resulting to ceaseless noise and atmospheric burblings. Directors, are you listening?

Rating: 8/10

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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 In 1982 2:01  ****
2 Babysteps 1:31  ***
3 Alexa 2:30  *****
4 Atrocity 1:33  ***
5 Flash Frames 1:20  ***
6 Death Martini 2:03  ****
7 Highway to Hell 1:27  **
8 The Ugly Truth 1:34  **
9 Death Rattle 1:24  **
10 Desidero 2:35  *****
11 Director's Cut 1:33  ****
12 Wilson Wyler Concannon 2:01  *
13 Redneck Requiem 1:54  **
14 The Tree Scene 2:56  ***
15 The Woods Are Dark 1:28  **
16 Lambs to the Slaughter 1:43  ****
17 Female Bondage 2:01  ***
18 On Location 2:00  *
19 Playpen 1:40  ***
20 Smoke House 1:40  *****
21 The Gorezone 2:09  ***
22 Private Screening 2:22  **
23 Phantasmagorial Holocaust 2:27  *****
24 Babyshower 1:30  **
  Total Running Time (approx) 46 minutes  



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