As a young child Alexis (Kamia Benge) lost her hearing in an accident. At age ten she regained it while bashing her murderous father’s head in with a meat tenderizer. Not only did her hearing come back, she now has a euphoric response to some sound. A sinister form of Synesthesia that is triggered by the sound of violence and pain.
Now grown up Alexis (Jasmin Savoy Brown, The Leftovers) teaches music to college students. She’s also a musician, converting sounds such as a session between a Dominatrix and her client into electronic music. Unfortunately not only are these sounds not triggering a reaction, she’s beginning to lose her hearing again. And it will take more death to bring it back again.
Sound of Violence starts out like a disease of the week cable TV melodrama. Writer/director Alex Noyer adds to this feeling with Alexis’ obvious crush on her roommate Marie (Lili Simmons, Bone Tomahawk, Banshee). But then he sends it in a completely different direction when Alexis accidentally kills an aggressive drunk. And then Marie breaks her heart when she hooks up with Duke, played by Mick Jagger’s son James Jagger.
Actually, saying Sound of Violence goes off in a different direction is an understatement. The film goes right off the deep end. Alexis doesn’t just start killing to trigger the response, she becomes a musically motivated Jigsaw. She creates a drum machine powered device to torture and kill a homeless man. She drugs a harpist’s drink resulting in her shredding her fingers as she plays. But ultimately even that isn’t enough to keep the highs coming.
The physical response Alexis gets is represented with the kinds of coloured lights and abstract shapes that 60s and 70s films used to portray a character’s acid trip. And that’s fitting, because her response to the sound of violence is like a high. And, like too many people, she becomes addicted to it, and willing to do anything to get more.
The pretty lights and shapes contrasted with horrific scenes if violence does make for some striking visuals. Noyer doesn’t shy away from showing the bloody effects, or at least as much of them as the budget will allow. Effects man Robert Bravo (The Devil’s Heist, Malvolia: Thanks Killing) certainly deserves a chorus of bravos for his work here.
While I certainly enjoyed it more than any of the Saw or Hostel films, Sound of Violence is not without a major flaw. At no point prior to the killings are we given any idea that Alexis has the psychopathic nature needed to perform these murders. Or that she has the knowledge, or money, to build the various devices she uses on her victims. It all comes out of nowhere and strains the film’s credibility.
A subplot with the police, led by Detective Fuentes (Tessa Munro, The Dark Tapes) trying to track down the killer is also rather underwhelming. They never seem like they’re capable of identifying Alexis, let alone stopping her. Here again the script has to resort to some dubious means, a convenient bit of coincidental timing, to set up the final scenes.
Those scenes however are some absolutely twisted shit, imaginatively horrifying both in concept and in execution. They go a long way towards making up for what flaws Sound of Violence has. In the end, it’s an above average film with some excellent scenes that’s let down by some weak writing. Hopefully Noyer takes a little more time with the script to his next film.
Sound of Violence will debut on cable and digital VOD May 21st from Gravitas Ventures. You can check their Facebook page for details.