DIRECTOR: Jenna Mattison
WRITER: Jenna Mattison
Kelly Johansen is a supernatural sceptic who debunks paranormal activity using low-frequency sound waves. When she heads into an abandoned Toronto train station to try and debunk her latest case, she soon discovers that there may be an unforeseen evil force that may have her questioning her own sanity and changing her own mind on whether or not ghosts are indeed real.
When it comes to horror films. If they are ever headlined by an actress that I adore, I will sit down and watch them without question. I don't really care about quality, I will still give them the time of day if they star an actress or actor that I admire or respect. The Sound stars the brilliant Rose McGowan. An actress that I grew up with and loved ever since I first saw her in Wes Craven's slasher masterpiece Scream. I love that she can navigate horror movies like Planet Terror, too starring in Indie fare like The Doom Generation. She's even great in Comedy with the underrated Jawbreaker.
So when it was first announced that Rose McGowan was going to be starring in a new supernatural horror film. I was excited, to say the least. I have always enjoyed most of her performances even if the movies themselves haven't been that great. With The Sound, I had high hopes that with support like Christopher Lloyd, we'd see something special or even something unique. I loved his recent performance in I Am Not A Serial Killer. The premise of this story had sounded different from a lot of other supernatural films. I went in with an open mind.
Sadly, The Sound is riddled with problems. The first real issue here is that the movie is just tedious. From the very first moment that this movie begins in an underground subway station in Toronto where we see a young woman throw herself in front of an oncoming train while onlookers scream in horror right up until its incredibly confusing and muddled conclusion. There is not one moment during this hour and a half where I thought that the movie added any kind of excitement. You have a creepily abandoned subway station, ghosts, and nightmarish flashbacks and yet there is not one moment of real suspense or horror to be found.
I enjoy an excellent slow-burn horror film. I love a build-up that eventually explodes in a horrific final. However, I think that Jenna Mattison has taken that idea of slower and ran with it. There are no shocks or surprises, no huge twists that left my jaw on the floor. If this movie were an ice-cream flavour, The Sound would be some no-frills vanilla. This really does feel just bland and dull. I feel like almost every aspect of the story was lifeless and that includes the wooden and emotionless performance by Rose McGowan. The writing didn't help.
Visually, I think that the movie looks murky and dark. Most of the film is spent in the underground Lower Bay train station. With only the lights of a laptop, mobile phones, and police torches to light the movie. The movie spends most of its time in darkness. If it wasn't for the visual queues of sudden bursts of moths, graffiti soaked walls, or trippy flashbacks, this might have been devoid of all colour. Even the opening scene between Rose McGowan and her husband is clinical. Just like their chemistry, it's all frigid and emotionless.
Another issue that I have with the movie is the character development here. Kelly is a paranormal debunker. You would think to be a sceptic, that she would be a little more in tune with the living. She and her husband have not an ounce of chemistry here. We have Christopher Lloyd in a small but thankless supporting role. Here he's featured as the second big name on the poster, but you'd almost blink and miss him. The villain of the movie, so to speak is so obvious and predictable that it's not even a surprise at all when their true colours come shining through. It all feels very foreseeable.
One element that I think will not go unnoticed here is the entire idea of trespassing. Early on in the film, Rose McGowan's character Kelly finds a dead body after she has entered the underground Lower Bay station. She clearly calls the discovery in. When a police officer comes down and never even really questions why she is there. No one comes and asks her to leave the station. An abandoned train station that is known to be haunted, why would the police officer not request that she leave if not for a safety issue? None of it seems plausible. It's not like she's some famous star. She has a blog and viewership.
Lastly, I wanted to mention the scares. In The Sound, I didn't find much of anything to be scared about here. I think the movie lacks both tension and suspense. I sadly didn't find myself even on edge here. I think what the director was trying to go for here was more of a mood and tone but even with a darkened setting like a haunted train station didn't inspire much tension. A couple of shady characters and a villain that comes out of nowhere, nothing really felt scary here. I think this was a missed opportunity to really deliver something frightening.
DEATH TOLL: 2
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A dead body is shown.
- A toilet overflows with blood.
- A man is attacked by a ghost and blood splashes on the window.
- A woman suffers from nosebleeds.
The Sound has a clever premise. A paranormal sceptic who uses a form of technology to debunk paranormal phenomena. The science behind this idea is quite an intriguing one. It's just a shame that The Sound misses the mark entirely. I think the problems outweigh the positives here. A plodding pace, little to no character development, no tension or suspense, a confusing conclusion, and several bland performances really do hinder this movie from being something truly special.