You May Want To Hear About the Sound of Violence (2021)
Title: The Sound of Violence
First Non-Festival Release: May 12, 2021 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Alex Noyer
Writer: Alex Noyer
Runtime: 94 Minutes
Starring: Jasmin Savoy Brown, Lili Simmons, James Jagger
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
After suffering a profound psychological trauma and hearing loss at a young age, Alexis (Jasmin Savoy Brown) works through her issues by crafting music. She finds joy in experimenting with different sounds and spending time with her roommate Marie (Lili Simmons). Her latest project has her seeking out sounds caused by violence to interpolate with her music. Unsatisfied with the meager samples she has extracted from willing participants, Alexis takes things a step further by enacting terrible acts of violence upon others to evoke the exact sounds she needs for her project.
An off-beat slasher, Sound of Violence experiments with its voice despite falling short in execution.
The journey of Alexis in Sound of Violence is one to behold. At first, the audience is led to believe that her discovery of violent sounds affecting her differently from others comes to light through the exploration of her project. As the film goes on, we learn that is not the case, and instead, Alexis has been dreaming of ways to experience the same high she rode when killing her father. It’s almost as if the film itself was steering the audience in the direction Alexis would if she were in control of her own narrative, despite the omniscient view the audience is given. This otherwise small truth makes her journey feel even more significant as everything comes crashing down in the worst ways.
While Jasmin Savoy Brown often glides between curt graduate student and deranged serial killer her true acting prowess shows when she is incognito. Her portrayal of Alexis as this troubled yet caring loner when around Marie is crafty and manipulative. While Alexis’s feelings very well may be genuine, her ability to twist situations to her advantage and weaponize her own trauma make for an effectively camouflaged killer. Outside of Savoy Brown and Lili Simmons, most of the acting is either serviceable or below average. Actors stumble through their lines as if they are trying to say them as soon as they come to mind, which derails the authenticity of the film even more than the bizarre contraptions Alexis creates to inflict pain and death.
Trauma bleeds into how we experience and grow in the world. Its effects are tenuous but clearly take hold. Synesthesia is a condition where a person experiences one sense involuntarily through the pathway of another. In Sound of Violence, Alexis’s experience is tied to her witnessing or committing various acts of violence. We learn after being re-introduced to Alexis as an adult that she has regained her ability to hear. It is only when she re-connects with her murderous impulses that her hearing loss creeps back into her life. Additionally, Alexis’s hearing loss comes in and out as her relationship with synesthesia changes. Writer and director Alex Noyer ties this condition to the trauma that Alexis experienced as a child to show how it can resurface as an adult, sometimes continuing that cycle of violence.
At first, the inclusion of bright colors and hypnotic visuals is an inspired choice. As the film progresses, it gets more irritating at how very little rhyme or reason goes into the visual manifestations of violence. While synesthesia doesn’t have clear cut “rules” per se, some consistency would be appreciated for a real disorder that affects a sizable amount of the population.
True to its name, the sounds are upsetting and unique. A horrific chorus of slices, pounds, and electronic hums crescendos into something wildly hypnotic and stunning in some instances. By the end of the film, the music Alexis creates is worthy of the revulsion inflicted on her by her students.
Interesting ideas lead to a so-so conclusion in this body horror slasher hybrid. Savoy Brown delivers a solid performance for a unique take on a serial killer. Mixing colorful euphoria with the grim brutality of nightmarish and imaginative inventions of torture gives the setup a specific punch that is missing from newer slashers. Unfortunately, some plot and pacing issues make this indie film stumble quite often without quite achieving the grandness of its vision. I know it sounds a little weird, but this neat experiment is worth a watch if you are aching for some synesthetic slasher sadism.
Overall Score? 5.5/10