sound of violence

There's no denying that "Sound of Violence" is an interesting premise on the page. Following Alexis (Jasmin Savoy Brown), who regained her hearing following the brutal murder of her family, falls in love with music. This love and drive to create the perfect sound leads her to commit murders of her own to complete it. Supported by her friend Marie (Lili Simmons), nothing will get in Alexis's way of creating the perfect sound. Now I know what you're thinking, "this sounds absolutely insane!" The problem is that it's just a little too much of everything.

First-time director Alex Noyer has made the film that he wanted to make. It's a story about trauma and someone processing it through incredibly gruesome violence. Conceptually, it's something that works as a unique spin on the psycho slasher genre than some fans love. The problem here is that Noyer never seems to strike a balance in the tone he wants. One minute, we're leaning into quite graphic murder sequences, which are followed up with moments of the friendly between Brown and Simmons. Unfortunately, the attempt to get us to care about the characters never lands.

Noyer focuses so much on the kills that we never feel the stakes for any of the characters. Brown is great as someone dealing with trauma is the driving force in what makes the film work. She's sympathetic as someone who's dealing with serious grief but also menacing when she carries out heinous crimes. It's a tricky role to accomplish, and Brown nails it from the very beginning. Seeing this downward spiral—especially after a terrible trauma at the beginning—you'd think it would be devastating to watch it unfold. In actuality, we're left with something that is just overly gratuitous.

No matter if you're a fan of gory violence or not, this is the sort of story that pushes its limit. In doing so, Noyer focuses on just how far he can push the violence that comes off as unnecessarily gruesome. So gruesome that I had to look away from the screen to stomach the violence. What's so infuriating is the gratuitous violence not serving a purpose to the overall story. It does anything to progress the story forward and ends up in an area that's rather nauseating.

What's admirable about the film is the choices that Noyer makes from a stylistic perspective. As Alexis is making her music before the violence kicks in, there's a great detail of how the world works. Noyer amply shows his understanding of the ever-growing music industry but doesn't lean into it. His focus is entirely on the uninteresting angle of why Alexis has gone down the road of becoming a serial killer, which includes the cop who's trying to hunt Alexis down. It's a rather bland take on the "crime-thriller" genre that remains rather uninteresting.

"Sound of Violence" had the potential to be an original spin on the serial killer genre. The cast is game, and the story knows it. The problem is that, in return, the story isn't as deep or interesting as it thinks it is. Seeing Alexis become a music-obsessed Norman Bates should terrify, but it left me with a feeling of indifference. It's a rather frustrating detail when you consider how well it could've gone. Having its premiere at the SXSW film festival, I wish that I could've seen it with an audience. The hope being that the gratuity wouldn't have been as mind-numbing as it was watching the film on a laptop.

Rating: 4/10

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