Hello darkness, my old friend…
Written and directed by Alex Noyer, Sound of Violence is a dark and brutal horror film that dives into its world with such enthusiasm that one can’t help but find it entertaining, even in places where it feels predictable. As a first-time director, Noyer takes the opportunity to let his creative juices fly. With vicious killings and some unique visual cues, he holds little back with the violence and cruelty to the film’s victims. From torture chambers to a gory recording session, Noyer builds his bloodbaths in a final crescendo that is truly unsettling.
Beginning in her childhood, Sound of Violence follows Alexis (Jasmin Savoy Brown) as she witnesses the brutal murder of her family at the age of ten. Though born deaf, Alexis’ traumatic experience awaken synesthetic abilities within her that help her to regain her hearing. Though painful, the connection between the violence she saw as a child and her hearing was never lost on Alexis and she becomes fascinated with the nature of sound. As an adult, she goes on to pursue a career as a musical teacher. However, when her hearing begins to falter, Alexis begins to orchestrate her own acts of violence in an effort to replicate the experience she had as a child. As her acts of violence escalate, so too does her pursuit of her maniacal musical masterpiece which she is obsessed to complete.
Built on the wild premise of a serial killer that uses her murders as part of her art, Violence could have become another example of a high concept that simply falls apart. However, the film is kept afloat by an absolutely engaging performance by its lead, Brown. As Alexis, Brown brings complexity to a character that could have easily skewed into comic book villain territory. In an almost Jekyll and Hyde turn, Brown has the ability to help the viewer sympathize with her character until the last moments when you can no longer do so. Because of her strong performance, Alexis’ fall from grace feels surprisingly tragic and adds an additional emotional layer to the film.
Dark and utterly disturbing in places, the horror of Violence is not about jump scares. (In fact, one could argue that it’s not really even about the graphic deaths.) Instead, the most truly horrifying aspects of the film stem from Alexis’ response to the murders. Struggling with her childhood trauma, Alexis’ music is an opportunity for her to be heard. As one who knows what it’s like to live without hearing, Alexis feels like her music allows her the opportunity to voice her inner pain. However, this also makes her murderous exploits feel even more personal and emotional.
As she conducts her symphony of violence, Alexis immerses herself in the bloodbaths. Not only do the murders heal her hearing, so too do these moments become cathartic pieces in an act of musical creation. All of a sudden, her craft takes precedence over her value of human life. (In fact, Alexis even argues that her victims aren’t truly dead as they ‘live on in [her] music.’) These are the moments where Noyer really allows his artistic impulses to fly. With each bloody death, Noyer bathes the screen in colour and sound as Alexis gives in to her instincts. As the deaths become more gruesome, so too do they become increasingly life-giving to her and Noyer visualizes that joy effectively.
While Sound of Violence will not be for everyone, it should satisfy fans of the horror genre who are looking for something fresh and unique. Led by some solid work by Jasmin Savoy Brown, Noyer’s film is both disturbing and visceral, playing out like a symphony of murder and mayhem.
Sound of Violence is available on VOD on Friday, May 21st, 2021.