South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival – Alexis (Jasmin Savoy Brown) is an experimental musician, working with her friend Marie (Lili Simmons) to create something that most people have never heard. The funny part is, Alexis is losing her chance to hear it too. Her hearing was impacted by an accident as a child, but regained during the most traumatic night of her life. When her father came home from serving in an unknown war, he had a psychotic break and brutally murdered his wife, Alexis’ mother. Alexis did the only thing she could think of – and killed him. In a rush of violent sound and color her hearing returned, giving her lifelong synesthesia relating to the sounds of violence. Forever seeking that same rush, Alexis starts down a musical rabbit hole – pushing the limits of violence – and pushing the limits of her humanity.

Graphic, blood-soaked violence permeates each frame of Sound of Violence, with special makeup effects by Robert Bravo, and visceral sound design by Jussi Tegelman. There’s also an immense amount of foley work, credited to Shawn and Melissa Kennelly, and Matt Wallace. The use of older techniques like foley combined with modern sound design and the synth soundtrack by Omar El-Deeb creates a symphony of sound in a color palette like nothing I’ve ever experienced. This contrasts beautifully with the large, gaping sections of silence – mirroring Alexis’ ever-waning hearing, which suck the air out of the room like a final gasp.

Brown’s performance is nuanced and subtle, playing both brilliant musician and damaged soul with equal ferocity. Her playful, yet tension filled relationship with Simmons as Marie plays like the perfect underscore of tense violins throughout the entire film. The ever-present “Will they or won’t they?” combined with your immense desire for Marie to figure Alexis out – even as you hope Alexis can get better or find a new thrill, is an intense emotional undertaking that both ladies take on with gusto and beauty. Chemistry abounds and sparks fly.

Sound of Violence is, in spite of the gruesome details, an intensely intelligent take on complex trauma, invisible illness, mental illness, synesthesia (a condition often misrepresented and misunderstood) and the ways that all of these things can be a storm brewing inside someone who appears completely “normal”. Alexis is what they would call in the old days “High-Functioning”. She’s mostly got her act together. She’s poised. She’s pursuing her passion. The sad reality is her passion is a lot darker and grislier than anyone would ever assume, on the outside looking in.

Sound of Violence has a bloody, bombastic beat, that drives the shocking events of the story into the very core of who you are. Like the bassline of your favorite song – Sound of Violence gets inside you and changes the rhythm of your heart, and will never leave you again.

Sound of Violence reviewed as part of our South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival coverage.

 

8 out of 10

 

Sound of Violence
RATING: NR No Trailer Available
Runtime: 1 Hr. 34 Mins.
Directed By:
Written By:

 

 

 

 

About the Author: Miranda Riddle

Makeup Artist, Monster Maker, Educator, Producer, Haunt-lover, and all around Halloween freak. When Miranda isn't watching horror films, she's making them happen. When she's not doing either of those things, she's probably dreaming about them. Or baking cookies.