As a child, Alexis lost her hearing. Then a tragic event not only allowed her to regain her hearing, but she was also able to see sounds. Now, as an adult, Alexis is willing to do anything to replicate that sensory experience.
Writer and director Alex Noyer breaks into the horror film industry with his feature-film debut, Sound of Violence. The film tells a unique story of a girl with hearing loss who experiences a traumatic childhood event. The impact sound of this violent event makes her regain her hearing and experience synesthesia for the first time. As an adult, she studies music and experiments with different sounds to try and recreate her synesthesia. It takes her down a brightly colored, blood-soaked path of violence to the beat of her own killer music. The film ends up touching on different topics such as the lasting effects of childhood trauma, living with physical ailments, and the endless artistic struggle to reach perfection.
Alexis’s story is a compelling one. She has clearly had a rough life, and she channels that energy into her music. Sound of Violence does a wonderful job of endearing the audience to Alexis before she turns to violent means to achieve her musical goal. Even when she is carrying out heinous acts, it’s almost impossible not to like her. It’s the kind of story that draws the viewers in and allows them to follow the protagonist on her journey, even though we can all see there is no way for this story to have a happy ending.
While the primary plot that follows Alexis is fascinating, there are still some plot points that don’t work as well. The biggest thing I wish had been explored more in Sound of Violence was the science behind Alexis. Synesthesia is such a fascinating thing so few people experience so it would have been great if the film explained it a bit more. Similarly, Alexis clearly has deep rooted mental health issues after her scarring childhood. Getting to know more about her psychological state would only help the audience further connect with the character while also providing more context for why she turns to violence. Then there is the police subplot. There are multiple scenes of the police investigating Alexis’s crimes. These scenes come across more as a police procedural with stereotypical cheesy cop talk and generally don’t tonally fit in with the rest of the film.
Sound of Violence has mostly great performances. Jasmin Savoy Brown (The Leftovers, For the People) stars as Alexis. Brown is wonderful at immediately making Alexis come across as a sweet, hardworking, and creative woman. It makes it all the more shocking when Alexis turns to crime, but the way Brown conveys her character disassociating in those moments makes the events feel plausible. Lili Simmons (Bone Tomahawk, True Detective) plays Alexis’s best friend and roommate, Marie. While Marie is also a sweet, endearing character, Simmons does a fantastic job of showing how different she is from her best friend. Marie is more of an outgoing party girl, yet she is always loving and supportive of her friend. Brown and Simmons have really great on-screen chemistry, making it easy for the audience to believe they are close.
The greatest part of Sound of Violence is the music and visuals. Since Alexis is a music major working on her own experimental sound, the musical score for the film is a vital part of the film. The music is unique and beautiful, making a stunning juxtaposition alongside the violence taking place. The film features some strange and wonderful kill scenes, yet what stands out in those scenes is how the filmmakers chose to show the synesthesia. As Alexis listens to the violence and death, she is able to see gorgeous explosions of color all around. These vibrant colors add beauty to the violence taking place on screen.
Sound of Violence is an assault on the senses, delivering memorable music, gorgeous colors, and disturbing carnage. There are certain elements of the plot could have been further developed or removed altogether, but as a whole the story is quite compelling. Brown and Simmons are wonderfully cast as the two leads and deliver strong performances. The two things that most people will likely come out of this film remembering are the way synesthesia is conveyed and the wonderful musical score. Noyer definitely makes sure audiences will pay attention with this debut and I look forward to seeing what he does next.
OVERALL RATING: 6/10