The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital] - SOUND OF VIOLENCE | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital] - SOUND OF VIOLENCE

sound of violence review
Seeking to recreate the euphoria she experienced during a horrific incident in her childhood, a young woman turns to murder.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Alex Noyer

Starring: Jasmin Savoy Brown, Lili Simmons, James Jagger, Tessa Munro

The villains of slasher movies are usually motivated by some traumatic childhood incident, often some sort of public humiliation or in the classic early '80s slasher wave, witnessing their parents or siblings having sex. Alexis, the villain/protagonist of writer/director Alex Noyer's feature debut Sound of Violence, an expansion of his earlier short Conductor, suffers the worst possible childhood trauma when she sees her mother and brother butchered by her PTSD suffering father, whom she subsequently bludgeons to death. But every cloud has a silver lining. Previously deaf, Alexis's hearing permanently returns as a side effect of the trauma. Also, while smashing Daddy's brains in, Alexis experiences a delirious euphoric sensation, a dazzling array of colours and lights dancing before her eyes.

sound of violence review

Now an adult (played by Jasmin Savoy Brown), Alexis is determined to once again experience such ecstasy. She's devoted her life to the study of music and sounds, and is currently employed as a teacher's aide in the music department of a college. This gives her access to the equipment she needs for her unique project. Alexis is convinced that if she can recreate the horrific sounds of violence she experienced as a child, she'll also once again delight in that near orgasmic sensation.

Initially, Alexis tries some conventional means, recording the sounds of a dominatrix whipping her prone submissive slave, but it fails to float her boat. And so Alexis begins killing a series of victims in novel scenarios and recording their death throes.

sound of violence review

On paper Sound of Violence shares a similar premise with Renaud Gauthier's Discopath, in which a young man is driven to murder by the four-four beat of disco music. But in practice the two films couldn't be less similar. Where Gauthier leaned into the absurdity of his premise, Noyer plays it with a straight face. This works up to a point, particularly in the gruelling flashback sequence that opens the film, but as Alexis's reign of terror progresses, the movie gets increasingly silly. Alexis's elaborate murders - which include tightening a harp's strings so much that they slice through the harpist's fingers – and her ability to pull the wool over the police so easily, would be more at home in something with the satirical tone of American Psycho. Instead, Noyer aims for a Cronenbergian approach, going full body-horror in a bravura climax, which admittedly features one of the most striking images you'll have seen in the genre for some time.

It is possible to pull off this concept with a straight face, a recent example being Jill Sixx's modern slasher The Stylist. But where Sixx crucially gave us a sympathetic villain/anti-hero, Alexis simply comes off as whiny and unlikable. It doesn't help that her first victim is a homeless man, an act which immediately prevents us from empathising with her subsequent homicidal journey. Like the recent Rosamund Pike vehicle I Care a Lot, Noyer makes his awful protagonist a lesbian, as though this will somehow make her more sympathetic, but it feels like a cheaply exploitative afterthought.

sound of violence review

Just like Alexis, Noyer has clearly put a lot of thought into the inventiveness of dispatching victims through audio related means, and his film's set-pieces are certainly original and memorable. It's a shame then that they're delivered in a movie that just can't seem to realise how silly its entire premise really is and stubbornly refuses to play this story for the laughs it should be inducing.

Sound of Violence is on UK/ROI blu-ray, DVD and digital from August 30th.

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