SXSW Film Review: Sound of Violence is a cathartic yet violent expression of how to overcome grief

Grief is often something that runs throughout the core of the horror narrative.  And depending how it is structured, it can act in a nature that’s either cathartic or repressive.  In Alex Noyer‘s Sound of Violence it’s a mixture of both psychological expressions, with the additive intricacy of music production – another key element to the success of a horror film in itself – layered to create a more innovative piece overall.

Jasmin Savoy Brown stars as Alexis Reeves, a music production student who, born deaf, recovered her hearing at the age of ten as she witnessed the brutal murder of her parents.  It’s a confronting opening scene, one that sets the film’s visceral tone, and lays the foundation for Alexis’s warped view on how to construct her own form of healing through the complexities of music production.

The sound of brutal violence is something Alexis associates with recovery, so when she starts to sporadically lose her hearing she forges her own path of discovery in a bid to regain her audio ability, something that leads to hideously violent experiments that blend her love of uncovering the unlikeliest inspiration for sound with an act of brutality that gives way to such medium.

Given writer/director Noyer’s own love of the genre and his extensive experience in the music industry, it makes sense for the two to be blended in this manner and, clearly wanting to place his own stamp on proceedings, when Sound of Violence leans into its horror temperament, it’s a truly disturbing yet fascinating experience; in moments that would make Saw‘s serial puppet master Jigsaw proud, a drum machine and a harp both literally become instruments of death as Alexis reconstructs them in order to uncover a violent new sound.

As cathartic as these violent expressions start to be for Alexis, Sound of Violence ultimately projects that accepting your perceived flaws and facing your trauma is the healthiest option.  The film doesn’t exist in the nature of healthy though, and it’s where the story will eventually lead for certain characters beyond the closing credits that suggests confrontation.  Those who want specific closure, or even justice, won’t appreciate the note Sound of Violence ends on, but it very much feels on brand for the savage, self-destructive temperament Noyer adheres to for the majority of its 95 minute running time.

THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Sound of Violence is screening as part of this year’s SXSW Film Festival, which is being presented virtually between March 16th and 20th, 2021.  For more information head to the official SXSW website.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.

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