We all handle trauma in different ways. Some of us isolate ourselves, some of us seek comfort from others, and some seek professional help. There are many other ways to cope with trauma, but what Alex Noyer‘s Sound of violence postulates is that a few of us do it by hurting others. It’s certainly an odd posture, but that’s what the movie does.
In 2002, Alexis (Kamia benge) recently lost his hearing and is preparing for his father’s return home after a stint in the Iraq war. He suffers from PTSD and after a brief episode during the family dinner, he murders Alexis’s mother and brother. After entering the massacre, Alexis grabs a meat tenderizer and proceeds to murder her father. During the process, he develops synaesthetic skills and can see the sound of bodily harm he is inflicting on his father. Flash forward 18 years old and Alexis (now played by The remains‘ Brown savoy jasmine) has regained his ability to listen and is in school to pursue a career in music. Unfortunately for some people, he still yearns for the feeling he experienced while murdering his father, and the only way he can ever experience it again is to hurt someone.
The way Sound of violence dealing with trauma is bound to be controversial. On a superficial level, it implies that those who suffer trauma go on to harm others. The problem is, that’s where the conversation ends. Sound of violence She is not at all interested in what drives Alexis more than her need to re-experience synesthesia. His drive is comparable to drug addiction as he continues to haunt it. However, that addiction is the result of your trauma. It would be a different story if your father’s murderous rampage wasn’t also the result of his PTSD, but here we are. The two characters affected by the film’s trauma turn to murder to cope. Because the film is more interested in Alexis’s murder methods than his trauma, it feels underdeveloped.
Alexis’s relationship with her friend Marie (banshee‘s Lili simmons). At first glance, the two appear to be in a relationship until Marie introduces her new love interest, Duke (James jagger, Mick’s son), which sends Alexis deeper into the throes of his addiction. Alexis is clearly in love with Marie, but the second Duke enters the scene, she becomes jealous to the point where it fuels her desire to hurt. So now we have a vengeful queer character who can’t deal with the fact that her best friend isn’t reciprocating her affections. Fantastic, but if you can beat that, there is still some fun in Sound of violence.
That enjoyment comes from the various murder scenes, which are pretty cool. They are the kind of scenes that make you want to witness them in a theater because they are shocking, gory, and are sure to provoke screams from the crowd (the first involves a machine that would make even Jigsaw jealous). There’s a lot of fun here, and the gorehounds won’t walk away disappointed. Equally enjoyable are Alexis’s synaesthetic episodes, which are visualized through bright colors floating across the screen, superimposed on her orgasmic facial expressions. It’s a fascinating way to express the feeling you feel like you are reminiscent of something you would see in a cosmic horror movie.
Brown is tasked with running the film, and he does it with poise. Appearing in almost every scene, she inspires the necessary amount of empathy required for the audience to want to continue to follow her on her journey, as she is the apparent villain of the piece. Simmons is a good love interest, but his Marie is given very little to do, often relegated to off-screen antics with Duke while Alexis takes it upon himself to kill.
Sound of violence features a solid lead performance from Brown and has quite a few impressive death scenes, making it all the more frustrating that he chooses to approach his subject on a strictly superficial level. Unfortunately, when the topic you are dealing with is trauma, there is no reason not to dig a little deeper. It’s a well-made movie, but its thesis is hard to swallow.