Friday, May 4, 2012

 

Sound of My Voice

Sound of My Voice Cult, by definition, is always mysterious to the outsiders. Remember Heaven's Gate, or Peoples Temple, or David Koresh? Or dare I mention the Church of Scientology? Cult members can carry out unthinkable acts. Often, the results can be devastating and horrific.

However, the terrifying chill coming from a cult is not only due to unpredictable behaviors by devoted followers and the manipulative cult leaders, but also because people are fearful about unknown. It's human nature. For instance, the imagination of hell is so powerful that it generates so much misery and hatred in human history.

Playing with that psyche, director Zal Batmanglij crafts a compelling thriller in his brilliant feature debut "Sound of My Voice" (USA 2011 | 85 min.).

Peter (Christopher Denham) is a school teacher by day and an investigative documentary filmmaker by night. He and his girlfriend Lorna (Nicole Vicius) successfully infiltrate into a cult hoping to make a documentary film and to unveil the cult's secret.

The cult leader is a beautiful soft-spoken young woman named Maggie (Brit Marling, who also co-writes the film). She rarely raises her voice, yet her words strangely powerful and eerily terrifying. She claims that she is traveling back to the present from the future—the year 2054 to be exact.

Coming to see Maggie is definitely more tedious than going through an airport security check point. Peter and Lorna need to strip naked, scrub with soap, get blind folded, and be transported in a different car to a secret basement somewhere near Los Angeles.

Lucky for Peter who wears glasses, so he can hide a hidden camera in the camera frame. However, does Maggie already know?

More importantly, is Maggie a gifted con-artist or is she truly beyond our comprehension? You be the judge toward to the end of the film.

Christopher Denham and Brit Marling in Sound of My Voice

Throughout the film, the effective camera work and the superb performance create numerous intense moments, even without a single drop of blood. The film skillfully generates the thrill by the atmosphere on the set and the psychological impact toward its characters. That is a remarkable achievement.

Days later after the screening of this film, I still cannot get the tune of "Dreams" by The Cranberries out of my head. After one of the funniest moments in the film involving this song, I am sure it will stuck in your head as well. Does "Oh, my life is changing everyday, in every possible way" have a similar effect as a cult's teaching? Probably so if it remains popular in 2054.

"Sound of My Voice," a Fox Searchlight Pictures release, opens on Friday, May 4, 2012 at Bay Area theaters.


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