Film is, by nature, a visual medium. We want to see things on the screen, not be told about them. But sometimes hearing can be as effective, or even more effective, than seeing it. If you’ve seen the original Hitcher then you know what I mean. Writer/director Dutch Marich (Reaptown, Horror in the High Desert) takes that approach and makes sound design a key part of his new film Infernum.
Camille (Suziey Block, Meaning Of Violence) lost her parents at a young age. They disappeared investigating a mysterious loud noise while on a camping trip. Now in art school, Camille does sculptures and interviews, with people, about this phenomenon. When she schedules interviews on their anniversary it causes an argument with her boyfriend Hunter (Michael Barbuto, Happy Camp).
Things get worse when Camille and her filmmaker friend James (Clinton Roper Elledge) catch a live stream of the phenomena happening in Nevada they head out to investigate. Hunter is already unhappy with the amount of time she spends with James doing interviews and this sets him off again.
Finding the road closed by an avalanche the pair are forced to take a train the rest of the way. Onboard they run into Hunter. After some awkward conversation, they fall asleep only to wake up with the train stopped in a tunnel and seemingly deserted except Rita (Sarah Schoofs, Meme, Ayla). As the sounds come closer they struggle to find out what is going on.
Infernum is in some ways similar to The Shasta Triangle with its plot points involving mysterious sounds and disappearances. And both involve a young woman who lost her parents to this phenomenon. But Marich takes his film down a darker path, both figuratively and literally.
Much of Infernum tales place not just at night but in a tunnel. It’s dark, claustrophobic and very cold and Marich makes the most of it. Then he adds some of the most effectively unsettling sound effects I’ve heard in a long time. Blanketing everything in a mix of unsettling tones, industrial noises and what sounds like human voices, many in torment, it effectively becomes a character of its own.
It could also have been incredibly annoying if not done right. But the sound is well designed and fits well with what we see. Infernum doesn’t show a lot and never really tips its hand until the end, but it throws some hints, such as the odd messages coming over an abandoned walkie-talkie, indicating there may be something bigger than we realize going on.
It’s a shame that distributor Indican Pictures has replaced the original poster, (which I used), with cheap artwork that makes it look like a generic ghost or zombie film. Because that’s exactly what it isn’t. Infernum is much more about suggestion and fucking with your head than jump scares and gross-outs. Those expecting another Train To Busan or Horror Express will be disappointed.
Available on most digital platforms Infernum is an effective dose of psychological horror. You can find more details on its Facebook page.