The phrase “auditory slasher” might make a lot of us picture that gut churning moment in Scream 2, the one where Phil (Omar Epps) takes a knife through the ear. But that’s not what Alex Noyer, writer and director of Sound of Violence, had in mind. For his feature directorial debut, Noyer adapted his short, Conductor, into this twisted fright that bleeds in technicolour.
Alexis (Jasmin Savoy Brown) is an experimental musician entrenched in academia and trying to nail down her sound. She’s chasing a magic dragon of auditory stimulus, as it were, one that she experienced as a child when she smacked her father with a meat mallet. As a child, Alexis lost her hearing in an accident, and while witnessing her father beat her mother to death and intervening with a mallet, it came back. It came back to her via a synesthesia-like experience that caused her to see waves of beautiful colours at the sound of her father’s pain. Since, her hearing having returned, she’s attempted to capture the titular sound of violence to be able to control and reexperience that high. With the help of her roommate, Marie (Lili Simmons), she tests various means of experiencing the colourful euphoria, but after too many failed attempts, she escalates her methods into blood splattering carnage.
Noyer lays a think blanket of deeper themes atop his tale of a woman seeking the sound of pain. The tortured musician living in fear of losing her beloved sense, of unrequited love, of inherited trauma, and the violence perpetrated by survivors. Unfortunately, not enough time is spent with any of these things and they end up feeling like hollow story points tossed into the film to justify stretching the short into feature length. The film feels uninterested in exploring these themes, though there’s some merit in including them at all.
Brown is stellar as the lead, allowing audiences to view her as the slight and delicate victim turned musician. She glides around like a whisper and her warm expression envelopes you in safety. That’s what makes it all the more jarring when she dances to the music of a man being ripped apart in a Jigsaw like trap. It all lives and dies by her, and she keeps the heart beating like a drum.
The MVP, as it were, are the macabre tableaus. From the bizarre killing machines, to the blood-soaked instruments, through the base rattling finale, there are gorgeous kills throughout this feature. The gorgeous kills, however, are sandwiched between filler by way of police investigations, relationship conflict, and classroom drama. The stories of love, friendship, envy, and loyalty are there, but they don’t drive the story enough, but then a blood drenched harp arrives to keep the viewer enthralled.
Though Noyer’s feature is flimsy in its story telling, it comes together well enough with what Brown does with a drum pad and a mallet. It has gnarly and artistic scenes by way of Velvet Buzzsaw that you’ll want to trim from the remainder of the feature to project onto your wall.