On paper, The Sound of Violence is almost everything I’ve ever wanted in a horror film. As a musician and sound recordist, the concept of obsessing over the never-ending quest to capture the right sound is really cool. The fact that the “right sound” in this scenario is literally the sound of violence makes it even cooler—and writer/director Alex Noyer does an exceptional job of setting the stage in the opening scene, letting viewers know exactly why our main character suffers from this obsession.
It’s a backstory filled with trauma and overt violence as a young, deaf Alexis Reeves (Jasmin Savoy Brown) witnesses an unspeakable family tragedy. But Alexis becomes obsessed with that tragedy—not only because of the everlasting mental damage that it caused, but because the very sound of that incident returns her sense of hearing. Viewers are then thrusted into the future and introduced to Alexis as an adult. She’s intelligent, talented, seemingly well-adjusted, and utterly obsessed with the sound of pain and suffering.
Alexis, along with her roommate and crush, Marie, set up harmless “experiments” such as recording the slapping sounds of BDSM sessions. Marie assists in these experiments not because she’s aware of Alexis’ obsession, but because Alexis is also a talented and budding artist in the local music scene. She’s using the sounds as samples in her new music. That said, it’s clear that Alexis receives a euphoric sensation from these sounds, but it doesn’t live up to or feel the same way as what she experienced when she was young. She needs more, and when a sudden complication with her hearing begins to flare up, Alexis’ pursuit of the sound of violence becomes more and more frantic as she falls face-first into lunacy.
The Sound of Violence features mind-blowing sequences of torture and terror as Alexis looks to extract a symphony of screams from her victims. These moments alone are worth the price of admission—even if they’re outrageously unrealistic. I’ve never seen anything like the kill sequences showcased in Noyer’s debut. And even if they aren’t realistic, the thought of “what if” is powerful enough to make them work. The Sound of Violence hits all of the right notes when it sticks to its core premise, but it’s when the film trails into more serious and dramatic territory that things begin to fall flat.
As the bodies start to pile up, Noyer’s script results to a detective side-plot to bring an end to the killing. Detective Fuentes pops into the mix without any introduction and does very little to build interest as a character. She simply appears after a few kill scenes and is suddenly hot on the heels of our leading lady. Tonally, the moments featuring detective Fuentes almost feel like they’re part of another movie, and it doesn’t help that the performances of Jasmin Savoy Brown and Lili Simmons (Alexis and Marie, respectively) far outshine those of anyone involved in these interactions. Worst of all, the inclusion of detective Fuentes does little to nothing for the film itself. Her inclusion offers no real impact to the events of the film—before or after she’s introduced. It’s an unflattering key change in a song that was doing just fine without it.
Regardless, The Sound of Violence remains a wildly entertaining affair—even if it’s difficult to connect with the more emotional elements of the film due to the absurdity of it all. That’s not to say there’s no emotional depth, though. The idea of lifelong trauma suffered from a childhood experience rings true and is executed quite well. The sound design, composition, cinematography, and performances all hit the mark—and the kills are truly magnificent. It’s a remarkable debut for Alex Noyer and a breakout performance for Jasmin Savoy Brown. Here’s to hoping for a little less procedural drama going forward, because everything else rocks.
The Sound of Violence made its world premiere at SXSW Online 2021. A formal release date has not been set.