Review: Sound of Violence

Written and directed by Alex Noyer, Alexis recovered her hearing after witnessing the brutal murder of her family when she was ten. The visceral experience awakened synesthetic abilities in her, she goes on to pursue a career teaching and experimenting to find new sounds. Faced with the likelihood of losing her hearing again, Alexis escalates her pursuit of her masterpiece through gruesome sound experiments and devastating designs. Starring: Jasmin Savoy Brown, Lili Simmons, James Jagger, Tessa Munro and Dana L. Wilson.

If you judged this film based solely on the first few minutes, you’d have something utterly different than the end result. What initially is a little insincere and awkward then turns into something overflowing with confidence, violence and creativity. There’s always an edge of darkness to this film, you couldn’t avoid it starting with the murder of a family but the way that it grows and blossoms in the character of Alexis (Brown) is excellent. The writing shapes it so that you gain a tangible sympathy for her, she may be eccentric or odd but she’s had to go through a lot, then slowly it tests that sympathy as she goes diving head-first into darkness until the light is completely gone. It’s almost deceptive in that progression, somehow it doesn’t make you question her behaviour as much as you undoubtedly should. It has the feel of mixing American Psycho with Velvet Buzzsaw and just a dash of Becky. It’s full of tension, surprise and a Jason Voorhees like ingenuity in its murders.

However, that’s not to say that the writing is perfect, there are a few places where it lets down the rest of the story. Firstly, it was a good idea to include a police element, it keeps an edge of suspense as to when, or if, they’ll catch Alexis but the quality of those scenes are like a cheesy cop show, they’re at odds with the dark, sinister and young atmosphere that the film has otherwise set up. It’s a shame to see and would have worked better if it felt like the same care and attention had gone into those moments rather than simply being used to further the plot. Secondly, there’s the ending, it’s problematic for several reasons, it’s framed much too sentimentally to match the sociopathic acts occurring. It pushes Alexis too far into actions that don’t feel believable or that they’re coming from a place that hasn’t been woven into the story well enough for it to work. It’s mismatched with the rest of the film up until that point, becoming almost maniacal and messy, resulting in quite a sincere let down, considering how creative and energetic the film previously felt.

Noyer’s direction is in contrast quite consistent throughout, the only exception being a use of lights through special effects to try to portray Alexis’s awakenings through violence, which was fairly unnecessary. Outside of that it feels fresh, young, sharp and has that enticingly satisfying edge that only horror manages to bring. It brings out that artistic edge from the story and creates something that instead of feeling like your average horror, it feels brand new and different. There’s a strange casual or light quality to the way it introduces the horror elements that make it even more satisfying to watch, even if you’re watching some of it through your fingers cause it really goes for it with the violence.

It’s undeniably more than just a little bit Alexis, she’s the driving force and the piece that connects the puzzle together so a lot of the film works because Jasmin Savoy Brown gives a superb performance. She brings a huge determination and strength to this character, then pushes it further when she starts to reveal the psychological cracks forming that draw her into this world of violence and darkness. She feels extremely intelligent and it’s possibly one of the reasons that the audience will give her the benefit of the doubt long after they shouldn’t. She’s appeared in huge tv shows over the years but is still a fairly underknown name and after people see this, that will likely change. Lili Simmons is great as the best friend who’s vaguely flirtatious and tries to keep Alexis in the right direction, even if she has no idea who she’s actually dealing with.

Sound of Violence is a refreshing addition to the world of horror, it’s dark, sinister, violent, sadistic, creative and full of this ironically bright energy. There’s sadly a few elements where it lets itself down, stopping it from being the full iconic feature it could have been but it’s still something special and considering this is a feature directorial debut from Noyer, that’s impressive. Jasmin Savoy Brown leads the charge here with a Patrick Bateman-esque confidence, minus the overflowing vanity and it’s hugely enjoyable to watch. Every so often a film comes along that blows away the cobwebs, that feels fresh and different and despite its flaws, this is one of those films.

Verdict: ✯✯✯ ½

Out on Digital and VOD in the US from 21st May

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