Peter (Christopher Denham) is a substitute teacher and his girlfriend Lorna (Nicole Vicius) is a writer, but they want something bigger. The two decide to create a documentary investigating and debunking cults. They manage to infiltrate a cult run by a mysterious woman named Maggie (Brit Marling), who claims to have come back in time from the year 2054 to help lead her followers to salvation. Maggie is frail and dying and never leaves her basement, so the cult members are blindfolded and transported to and from her home. Peter and Lorna come up with a plan to secretly record these meetings and expose Maggie as a fraud.
As Peter and Lorna attend more meetings, Maggie gets deeper and deeper into their heads, and they start to question their own beliefs, and their loyalty to one another also starts to come into question. Could Maggie’s story about being from the future actually have some truth to it? Or are her calm, methodical demeanor and divide-and-conquer techniques just part of being a master con-artist?
I knew nothing about this film before sitting down to watch it. From the Blu-ray cover, I was expecting some sort of gory, freaky horror film, but that was far from the case. Sound of My Voice is a low budget psychological and suspenseful thrill ride, but low budget doesn’t mean low quality. The film builds up the tension as our skeptic couple gets deeper into the cult. You can really feel this uneasiness of the constant threat of what could happen if someone discovered what they are really up to. As the film progresses, we get introduced to additional characters and it’s not clear at first exactly how they fit into the story, and the mystery of who Maggie really is grows more and more curious.
Brit Marling is captivating as the time-traveling cult leader Maggie. With the way she speaks, it’s no wonder Maggie has all of these followers! She is a master-manipulator, and just when you think someone has her caught in a lie, she convincingly talks her way out of it. I constantly found myself flip-flopping on whether I believed her story or not—is she really a con-artist, or as crazy as it sounds, did she in-fact travel back in time?! There is one scene when Maggie confronts Peter about something he his hiding from her that was so intense and emotional.
The film itself doesn’t rely on special effects or huge action sequences. Instead, it is a slow burn that uses the dialogue and situations to draw the viewer into its world. For the most part, the visual style of the film is pretty consistent, except for two things. Sound of My Voice is broken up into at least nine sections, and between each of these we get a somewhat jarring black screen with large white capital letters spelling “ONE”, “TWO” and so on. Also, near the beginning of the film, we learn about Peter and Lorna’s childhoods via third party narrations over some sped up low-quality home video footage. This style, which I have seen used in other films, didn’t seem to really fit with the rest of the movie.
There were a couple of places where the film got a little slow, perhaps due to the fact that most of the film takes place in one location. But overall, it really captured my attention and either had my heart pounding or mind racing most of the time.
- Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Descriptive Audio DD 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1, French DD 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
- Video: 1.85:1 Widescreen, 1080p
- The Making Of Sound Of My Voice (4:15)
Director/Screenwriter Zal Batmanglij and Screenwriter/Producer Brit Marling (who also plays “Maggie”) talk about creating the film.
- Maggie Featurette (3:00)
Director/Screenwriter Zal Batmanglij, Nicole Vicius (“Lorna”), Chirstopher Denham (“Peter”) and Brit Marling talk about the character of Maggie, and how she is able to captivate her followers.
- Fox Movie Channel Presents Direct Effect With Zal Batmanglij (4:58)
Interview with Director/Screenwriter Zal Batmanglij who talks about collaborating with Brit to write the film and then going off on his own to direct it. He also talks about making the actors comfortable and understanding their needs in order to get the desired performances.
- Fox Movie Channel Presents Writer’s Draft With Brit Marling (4:57)
Brit Marling talks about co-writing the film with Zal Batmanglij so that they would have material from which they could each pursue their primary interests—hers being acting and his being directing.
- Theatrical Trailer (2:24)
- Sneak Peek (9:23)
Trailers for Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Raven, American Horror Story Season 1, Martha Marcy May Marlene, and Another Earth
I don’t have any complaints about the picture and sound quality of the Sound of My Voice blu-ray. Most of the film takes place in a monochromatic basement with people wearing gowns of the same color. This adds to the creepy look and tension of the film, and helps to give the viewer a constant sense of uneasiness. That said, it didn’t feel like I was watching a low budget film—the picture was crisp and clear.
The extras on this set are really disappointing—just a few short and somewhat repetitive interviews. I would have loved to see more behind the scenes featurettes on the actual filming as I find low budget films always find the most creative ways to get the job done. It also would have been great to get an audio commentary, deleted scenes and/or a gag reel.
Overall, I found the film to be entertaining and a bit of a tense thrill ride that had my mind constantly racing. It’s definitely worth at least a rental.