Will “Sound of My Voice”
Become a Cult Favorite?
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
To me “The Haunting” is a scarier movie than “Blood Feast,” despite the former’s lack of leather-faced maniacs, gruesome dismemberments, spilled guts, and Technicolor-red buckets of blood. That which lies just beyond the shadows is more frightening than the monster we can see.
That’s the way I watched “Sound of My Voice,” a psychological thriller that kept me waiting for something to jump out of the shadows. It’s currently raising tension levels at the Tropic Cinema.
In it, a young filmmaker and his girlfriend (Christopher Denham and Nicole Vicius) infiltrate a cult, hoping to expose the cult leader (Brit Marling) as a fraud. After all, the spooky woman claims to be from the future.
"Somewhere in the valley, there is a woman living in a basement. She's actually amassing followers. These people believe that she will actually lead them to salvation, or whatever. And yes, she's dangerous – but we have to see this thing through. All the way," the filmmaker tells his girlfriend.
First-time feature director Zal Batmanglij gives us a low-budget, minimalist production, much of it set in a basement, but his Blair Witch approach delivers a heightening anxiety that made “Sound of My Voice” a darling at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and at SXSW.
Much of the credit must be shared with Brit Marling, herself a filmmaker (“Boxers and Ballerinas,” “Another Earth”). In addition to playing the otherworldly cult leader, she co-wrote the script with Batmanglij.
Originally conceived as a 10-part webisode, the story is divided into 10 chapters, each with a bit of a cliffhanger feel. Are our amateur documentarians in danger? Is Maggie the cult leader really from the year 2054? This film may leave you wondering at the end – and wanting more.
You may get it. Word on the street in Park City was that Batmanglij intends this to be the first film in a trilogy.
A science fiction film without CGI special effects, a horror film without blood, an edge-of-your-seat thriller made for about $1.99 (but nothing is missing), “Sound of My Voice” will draw you in, the same way the young filmmakers are drawn into the cult.