Kicking off my auspicious start to the 2021 SXSW Film Festival screenings is a film I immensely anticipated. Sound of Violence, the feature film debut from writer and director Alex Noyer, shook me in ways I could’ve never imagined.
Conjured from his short, Conductor, Noyer molds a maniacal narrative with Sound of Violence that captivated me from the first frame with the force of a Jedi chokehold. In a sun-soaked car ride, a young hearing-impaired girl, Alexis, her mother, and older brother are heading home—a place now ripe with the overwhelming difficulties presented with a loved one suffering from wartime PTSD. Alexis’ father is absolutely beside himself with what he had to endure in combat, carrying home heavy emotional baggage.
One evening, while young Alexis is innocently jamming out to the soothing, rhythmic beats emanating from her boombox, she “feels” the sound of violence. What she discovers within her own home is shocking… serving as a trigger that ultimately sets in motion a miraculous yet detrimental retention of hearing.
Since the bloody tragedy involving her family years prior, adult Alexis (Jasmin Savoy Brown) has come to completely embrace her sense of hearing. Becoming a serious student of music—diving headfirst into experimental means of expressing herself through a multitude of soundwaves—Alexis is determined to exude her passion. But an increasing number of moments where she randomly loses her ability to hear has caused deep concern, warranting a trip to her doctor.
The news isn’t what Alexis wanted to hear, and we see the young woman begin to crack. Music, sound, and the expression it provides for her have literally become her life, and it may be taken away at any moment. Thrown into the mix, the complicated relationship she has with her beautiful, beloved roommate, Marie (wonderfully portrayed by Lili Simmons), and the volatile combination of past and present, help fuse to ignite a bold bloodlust within the young, damaged connoisseur of sound.
Stumbling upon her ability for stimulating, transcendent experiences while listening to sounds of pure, unadulterated pain and violence, Alexis curiously elects to further pursue this uncommon avenue. Her desperation to collect these stimuli and dark inspirations turn her into a mad scientist… beginning with creating a musical torture chair that Countess Bathory herself would envy and on to a sound booth experiment that Scanners fans will appreciate.
The catharsis she sets out to conduct is one only she can hear, sadly. The progression of her completely diabolical experiments punctuate Sound of Violence with some fantastic gore and undeniably continues the film’s horrific tone, but it also still maintains a very human heartbeat. I was uncomfortably sympathetic towards Alexis, even after watching her relentlessly engage in self-indulgent atrocities. In a shocking and unfortunate repeat of her past, violence has come to overwhelmingly consume Alexis’ life with the sacrifice she makes in the end, downright devastating.
Sound of Violence elevates the slasher sub-genre, utilizing the dreamy cinematography of Daphne Wu, along with some extraordinarily ethereal lighting, sound, absence of sound, and an astonishingly profound performance from lead Jasmin Savoy Brown. Filmmaker Alex Noyer provides one hell of a template with his script and vision, assembling an incredible team to surround himself with that matched his ambition and talent. Noyer’s brainchild and the collective creative effort equaled one of the most exciting debuts I have had the pleasure of witnessing.
Sound of Violence had its world premiere on March 18, , a prominently featured Midnighter for the 2021 SXSW Film Festival with more festival screenings on the way, I’m sure. Clearly seeing what Sound of Violence brings to the table, indie film distributor Gravitas Ventures has already secured the North American rights and is set to unleash Noyer’s feature On Demand and in theaters May of 2021, with counterpart VMI Worldwide quickly following suit and taking aim at an August 2021 UK release. Please, take my word on this one. Do not miss an opportunity to experience Sound of Violence.
Check out the trailer below and be sure to follow the film @hermusickills on Instagram!
SOUND FUCKING ON!!!