Alex Noyer’s Sound of Violence utilises its horror graphically well. Yet the movie shines most when it explores what is under the pools blood left behind with a story full of tragedy, desperation wrapped around PTSD and addiction – A must-see film.
Alexis (Jamin Savoy Brown) recovered her hearing after witnessing the brutal murder of her family when she was ten. The visceral experience awakened synesthetic abilities her and started her on an orphaned path of self-discovery through the healing tones of brutal violence. She goes on to pursue a career teaching and experimenting to find new sounds. She is supported by her roommate Marie (Lili Simmons), who is unaware of the dark secrets behind Alexis’ unique music and the part she unknowingly plays. Faced with the likelihood of losing her hearing again, Alexis escalates the pursuit of her masterpiece through gruesome sound experiments and devastating designs. She won’t let anything stop her, not even love.
This is as unique horror and a film as you can get; we have a wonderfully inventive premise that immediately sucks you in. Sound of Violence takes the condition of Synesthesia. It runs with it, allowing the audience to become engrossed with every bout of violence that Alexis commits and experiences to get her to fix. Of course, it is a relatively aggressive take, but perhaps not that all unbelievable.
We have a fascinating story between the schlocky deaths (with one very memorable scene in a recording booth). Alexis is losing her hearing at a rather alarming rate and a mixture of wanting to complete her masterpiece and being addicted to obtaining that Synesthesia. It flows through her like a drug, which makes you wonder how long this has been going on as it isn’t overly likely that she went over 15 years without murdering multiple people to obtain that feeling. We also have a character that has never had the chance to mentally cope with the loss of her family as she seems dulled to it due to yearning for the other feelings.
This leaves us with a character who we shouldn’t be able to relate to but can easily do so. She is a broken woman who, despite having a garage and an RV left behind from her family, the actual thing that her family gave her before they died was her hearing. She is terrified, and as she goes down that rabbit hole, she loses herself in the addiction of the feeling of Synesthesia. Such an exciting concept that Alex Noyer does work so well. The trauma left within Alexis carries the film forward. As mentioned despite the wonderful deaths, the true meat of the film is in the tragedy of someone who has PTSD and a form of addiction caused by that trauma. There will not be too many films that go this route and make it work.
For all of the visuals on display here. The sound design rises above everything else (as you would expect in a film such as this). There is a great amount of detail embedded within Sound of Violence. The use of young Alexis discovering something is wrong in the opening scenes due to feeling the pounding of the walls is executed well and equally haunting. Also, as Alexis loses her hearing, we get bouts of no noise until Noyer picks it for the odd jump scare. As Alexis does throughout the film, the percussion allows the audience to focus a little more and brings a more immersive experience, even in a horrifying way presented here.
You could argue that as the deaths begin to mount up, we lose a bit of this. But it is clear that Alexis is as conflicted as she is complex. We also see her make all of these death plans quicker than Jigsaw could dream of, hinting that this round of deaths is not her first rodeo but are. In fact, just more daring due to her desperation to keep her hearing. Furthermore, no one other than Alexis is particularly fleshed out as you would like. Of course, this is her story, but to help us feel something for the life, she could have had, more needed to be done with Marie. She has little to do other than help and then become worried for her friend, and the crush that Alexis has on her is a sub-plot that is just tossed aside.
Those deaths in Sound of Violence are very creative and elaborate as they progressively get darker and more gruesome as Alexis tries to capture that magic. These deaths make you winch, especially the opening murder trap, as it just continues to the almost oblivious Alexis as she creates more of her song. This culminates in a great looking, but shocking final death, which is just about earned, though why the character keeps walking without asking for help will confuse. At this point, though, Noyer hopes to have you transfixed enough not to question the logic for too long.
Sound of Violence is a film that has a multitude of layers to it that is enjoyable. Be it the tragedy presented to us of a young girl who saw far too much so early in her life to a film that wants to find the worst possible demise for its characters as they ramp up deaths to an almost absurd rate. This is a film that does a lot right and becomes quite a memorable piece.
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