Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Sound Echoes Off a Stale Plot: A Film Review

*full disclosure: an online screener of The Sound was provided by the film's publicity arm.

**there are spoilers here.

Director/writer: Jenna Mattison.

Cast: Rose McGowan, Christopher Lloyd and Michael Eklund.

Sometimes, reviews serve as a warning. That is the case with Jenna Mattison's The Sound. Her sophomore feature is a cliche-ridden, very flawed feature. The plot barely progresses from paranormal skeptic, investigating an underground subway tunnel. Instead, it stalls out through much of Act I and II, even into the final act. Barely anything happens as Kelly, played by Rose McGowan, struggles with her own mental instability and disbelief. Meanwhile, the protagonist is nearly one dimensional. And, this viewer wonders, with the lack of scares and gore: who is this horror film was really meant for? Maybe, there is a growing child horror fan base, out there. For everyone else, you need to skip the subway train station that says: "The Sound."

The plot could easily be summed up in a logline. In order to give the film more breadth than it deserves, Kelly is a paranormal skeptic and ghost debunker. She goes to remote farm houses and subway stations, with her microphone and acoustic software. At supposed haunted locales, she seeks out barely perceptible sounds. With these sounds, she is able to find the reasons for hauntings, which are practical in nature. Kelly is turned into a believer, in the Lower Station Subway tunnels, though. Here, she is confronted by an actual haunting. But, these ghostlings are coming from the tried-and-true protagonist's unconscious. There is a whole lot of dull track to cover, before reaching this long-coming conclusion.

The Sound is a terrible film on a number of levels. Though, the slow pacing, repetitive plot and unimaginative setting standout the most. It is always strange to see a story develop so slowly, when a horror film can be taken in so many directions. Instead of progressing, the viewer will be shown Kelly: texting on her phone, Tweeting or just sitting on a computer. Could the story not be developed even slightly in the first fourty minutes? The film's plot and story has been borrowed from many other films. The whole grieving character has been done to death, in films like Fabrice du Welz's Vinyan (2008), or Haunting at the Beacon (2011). Though, the grief within The Sound comes from previous childhood trauma. Also, hundreds of horror films have been set in or near psychiatric hospitals. From John Carpenter's The Ward (2010) to Seventy-Nine (2013) and Havenhurst (2016), too many horror films rely on this well used horror setting. There is very little that is original in The Sound.

Veteran horror fans will not like this outing. And, there likely is no real market for a film like The Sound. Is there a growing audience of eight or nine year old horror fans out there? The Sound is not for adults. The plot is just too simple, to be entertaining. Meanwhile, long time horror viewers will not be scared by this production. There is very little conflict and surprisingly very little character interaction. A bit of supernatural interplay (or Kelly's unwinding) does enter near the finale. Meanwhile, Kelly only talks with a few imaginary characters. Gorehounds will be the least amused with one off-screen kill and some CGI blood. This title is only unique for its bloodlessness. The softness of the feature and its gentle approach to the genre is really only suitable for a younger audience, or someone entering the horror genre for the first time.

The Sound is set to debut in a few theatres. The release date is coming your way on September 29th. This is not a date that you will want to remember and neither is the film. Congratulations go out to Jenna Mattison for completing a film. This is no easy task. However, the finished product here is just not suitable for a wide audience, or most horror fans in general. It is practically a stagnant film, plotwise. As well, the protagonist, though suffering from trauma, shows no signs of poor coping skills, like addiction. She is very much a flat character and uninteresting to watch. Along the way, their is a cliched plot to get through and an awkwardly delivered ending. Events are not tied up assertively, nor clearly. Did she kill a detective, or was he imaginary? Who knows and frankly who cares? This viewer could not wait for this train wreck to reach its final station and closing credits. This haunted trip is just not worth taking.

Overall: 5.75 out of 10.

The film's second trailer can be found here: The Sound 2nd Trailer on 28DLA

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