Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Hunter Doohan in Soundwave
"Soundwave has a lot of potential but it's played out as a fairly run of the mill teen thriller."

What would you do if you had access to soundwaves hours after they had been created - if you could hear what had been said in the recent past? Shy teenage electrician Ben (Hunter Doohan) has built a form of radio that will let him do just that, but for the most part all he does is play around with it, spying on passers-by and neighbours like Katie (Katie Owsley, who had a small role in Narang's previous feature, Wake In Fear) without it really occurring to him that this might be rude. He occasionally tries to be useful by helping a detective (Vince Nappo) to solve crimes, but when the detective's plans to make them both rich by marketing the invention attract men who have said things they'd rather stayed secret, trouble is sure to follow.

With a premise that will remind science fiction fans of the slow glass in Bob Shaw's famous 1966 short story Light Of Other Days, Soundwave has a lot of potential, but it's played out as a fairly run of the mill teen thriller. A modicum of effort is made to justify the central idea scientifically, only for reason to be cast aside later when the plot requires Ben's genius to extend to all things audio-based, despite the obvious limitations of the equipment he's working with. It's an unlikely brilliance matched only by the unlikely naivety of the investors on his trail.

Despite these limitations, Soundwave works well enough on its own terms. Doohan is a likeable lead who somehow manages to make his lack of social skills seem endearing, and Owsley provides solid support as a troubled young woman willing to take a chance on a stranger because everybody closer has let her down. A handful of daft decisions can be excused by their youth and there's a refreshing absence of cynicism. Both contribute an energy to proceedings that helps sustain the pace as Ben finds himself hunted. Narang slots in a bit of background about broken families but there's not much room for it to develop.

This enjoyable if rather lightweight outing will appeal to younger teenagers and pass the time well enough for older viewers, but one is left hoping that its big idea will be picked up and given the more substantial treatment that it deserves.

Reviewed on: 21 May 2020
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Soundwave packshot
A teenage inventor's life spirals into chaos when a nefarious group discovers he's invented a device that can hear into the past.
Amazon link

Director: Dylan K Narang

Writer: Dylan K Narang

Starring: Hunter Doohan, Katie Owsley, Paul Tassone, Mike Beaver, Vince Nappo

Year: 2018

Runtime: 96 minutes

Country: US


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