The Sound


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Sound
"Though films about psychic investigations are fairly common, The Sound manages to find a path of its own."

Ever since engineer Vic Tandy identified the connection between infrasound, hallucinations and feelings of fear and anxiety, investigators have been turning up cases in which it appears to explain supposed hauntings. Caused by vibration generating sound just below the range of human hearing, it has been found to be present in a number of buildings long notorious for psychic phenomena. Jenna Mattison's debut film as a director follows Kelly (Rose McGowan), a paranormal investigator who uses sound technology to debunk such phenomena, as she follows up a message suggesting that there's something sinister going on in an abandoned subway station.

Stop me if you think you've heard this one before. In fact, though films about psychic investigations are fairly common, The Sound manages to find a path of its own. There are multiple kinds of haunting at work here, but for most of its running time the film doesn't overemphasise this. Though a heavy-handed final scene weakens an otherwise interesting ending, the film is to be credited for avoiding the usual cliché.

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The problem with The Sound is that it has very little going on besides this. Naturally, a lot of work has been put into the sound design, and this builds an initially impressive atmosphere, but it's a device that can only be sustained for so long. Only rarely does it attempt to do more than simply intimidate, linking audio themes with narrative ones. Being underground, the film is dimly lit, so we spend an awful lot of time watching McGowan wander around in a space where we can see and hear very little, and there's simply nothing to hold our attention.

Whilst McGowan is a competent actress and works hard with what she's got, the ante is upped far too early. She's asked to show us a level of stress that leaves her with nowhere to go, so that every time we do see her face clearly it's wearing the same expression. With her dialogue, text messages and body language similarly constrained, we're left with the impression that what could have been a good short film has simply been stretched out to feature length without sufficient substance to justify it.

There is a sub-plot here, but it suffers from the same combination of underdevelopment and overdramatics. Not enough is made of the technical side of Kelly's work, which might have offered more structure. All in all, this is an interesting idea that falls short of the mark

Reviewed on: 27 Sep 2017
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The Sound packshot
A skeptic of the supernatural sets off to debunk paranormal sightings using low frequency sound-waves in an abandoned subway station and is met with unforeseen evil and eerie memories.

Director: Jenna Mattison

Writer: Jenna Mattison

Starring: Rose McGowan, Christopher Lloyd, Michael Eklund

Year: 2017

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: Canada


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