Review by Sean Boelman
Often the thing that makes a torture porn horror flick great is the creativity of its kill scenes, and while Alex Noyer’s Sound of Violence has plenty in that department, it is also surprisingly interesting in a narrative sense. Taking full advantage of its intriguing concept, this film seems like a cult classic in the making.
The movie tells the story of a young experimental musician who, having regained her hearing during an act of brutality when she was younger, discovers that she has synesthetic abilities, causing her to set out on a string of grisly crimes. It is clear that this is a feature-length expansion of a short film because of the high-concept narrative, but it still works well.
Although the movie is at its best in the more horrific, gore-heavy scenes, Noyer’s script does an unexpectedly great job of filling the gaps with compelling content. Even though the film doesn’t go so far as to make the character fully empathetic, it also gives her an arc that makes the stakes of the movie all that much higher.
Admittedly, the film does fumble its handling of trauma. Using that theme in a movie like this is somewhat questionable, almost taking advantage of a survivor’s story for the sake of entertaining an audience. There is some nuanced discussion at a few points in the film, but for the most part, it’s little more than a tragic backstory.
There is also a great deal of effort put into developing the relationship that the protagonist has with her best friend. It’s a great way of adding an extra emotional connection to the movie’s narrative, and ultimately, the thing that really makes the finale impactful and not just merely shocking.
The absolute highlight of the film is Jasmin Savoy Brown’s lead performance. She brings a lot of range to the character, really emphasizing the way in which she devolves over the course of the movie. Her use of nonverbal mannerisms is especially impressive, as they are what conveys a great deal of the film’s emotion.
Additionally, the movie is quite excellent in terms of its visual execution. Noyer has done a great job of using practical effects in the more gory scenes in a way that is both hilarious and wonderfully atmospheric. The use of music is excellent too, setting the tone of the film quite well.
Sound of Violence is a gory treat for genre fans. Although it doesn’t quite nail all of the more ambitious stuff it tries to do, it will undoubtedly get a reaction of shock and enjoyment from its audience.
Sound of Violence screened as a part of the online edition of the 2021 SXSW Film Festival, which ran March 16-20.