VOD film review: Sound of Violence
Matthew Turner | On 01, Sep 2021
Director: Alex Noyer
Cast: Jasmin Savoy Brown, Lili Simmons, James Jagger, Tessa Munro, Dana L. Wilson, Kamia Benge, Wes Mcgee, Mataeo Mingo, Corsica Wilson
Where to watch Sound of Violence online in the UK: Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play / Sky Store
Written and directed by Alex Noyer, Sound of Violence starts brilliantly with a grisly prologue in which a young deaf girl (Kamia Benge as Alexis) regains her hearing and experiences ecstatic synaesthesia (sound visualised as a burst of colour) when she beats her father to death with a meat hammer as he’s murdering her mother.
Ten years later, Alexis (now played by Jasmin Savoy Brown) is a college teacher and music student, working on an ambitious final year project, accompanied by her best friend and sort-of crush Maria (Banshee’s Lili Simmons). While recording the sound of a dominatrix spanking a client, Alexis once again experiences the ecstasy of synaesthesia, which pushes her onto an increasingly obsessive path as she begins murdering people in order to chase the high she gets from the titular sounds of violence.
The central premise of the film is intriguing, but it’s poorly served by the script, which is frankly all over the place. In particular, there’s no sense of progression, with the film just ping-ponging from gory set piece to gory set piece. Moreover, we never get any insight into exactly what Alexis is trying to achieve – she’s clearly striving for something (as if she’s composing a symphony she’s still not quite happy with), but the film never allows her to vocalise what that might be. Ironically, the script could have used a sounding board.
It’s doubly frustrating, because there’s plenty of thematic potential lying about – linking her behaviour to her past abuse, say, or to her unrequited crush, or even as a race against time once she discovers she might lose her hearing again – but the script completely ignores every bit of it. The crimes against screenwriting don’t stop there either – there’s also a staggeringly inept police investigation subplot that beggars belief.
Watching the film, it’s immediately clear that Noyer didn’t think any further than his grisly set pieces. In fairness, at least one of them is genuinely inspired, a brilliant death-by-theremin sequence that’s shocking and funny all at once. However, the others (particularly one involving razor-tipped harp strings) barely make sense.
The film is further undermined by the performances. Jasmin Savoy Brown has an appealing, charismatic presence, but she struggles to convey Alexis’ level of obsession and her character ends up seeming blithely vapid as a result. (That’s partly the script’s fault, which doesn’t bother showing you Alexis dealing with the aftermath of her murders, no matter how graphic.)
Similarly, the supporting characters are embarrassingly underwritten, particularly James Jagger (son of Mick), who’s completely wasted as Maria’s hook-up boyfriend, Duke, and Tessa Munro as the world’s worst detective. (Once again, the script is at fault here, because it completely fails to give Alexis and Maria the emotional connection the story needs.)
In short, this is a frustrating experience on a number of levels. Ultimately, the small handful of inventive moments aren’t enough to make this worth your while.