DVD Review: Sound of My Voice
What if recent releases Looper and The Master had a baby? Well, it would be nothing like Sound of My Voice, but there is little else to compare in the time traveling, cult leader sub-sub-genre.
Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius) are a young couple selected to join a cult led by Maggie (Brit Marling), a woman who claims to be from 2054. Maggie talks of great civil war that is not too far from the present day, that will ultimately leave the country in a post-apocalyptic state and she wants to prepare a select few to be able to lead others to survival once the turmoil begins. However, Peter and Lorna have infiltrated the cult to expose Maggie as a fraud, but quickly lose sight of their task as they go deeper into Maggie's teachings.
At first, Sound of My Voice is an intriguing look into a cult because what's happening doesn't really feel dangerous. Maggie is at best a captivating leader and at worst and good liar. But she's not scary. The group doesn't have a violent streak, despite one scene of an older member taking Lorna into the woods for some shooting practice. The members don't live in a commune, cut off from the world. They go to work and live at home, convening in Maggie's basement when called. It's simply a small group of people choosing to believe something very different than the mainstream. At least at first.
The problem with Sound of My Voice is that at a mere 80 minutes, it feels stunted. Little is known of the cult's selection process, yet their goofy handshake, which becomes a major plot point, is clearly seen numerous times. Maggie claims to have woken up in the present day with no memory, but was sought out by her second-in-command with no explanation of why. The outside forces that threaten to undo the cult are randomly introduced, then forgotten, then brought back with little background or resolution. And of course, like with any little indie drama, the true question ("Is she or isn't she?") is never answered, not that it needs to be.
So despite an intriguing set up and good performances, Sound of My Voice feels more like a short film in progress, still begging to be fleshed out to make a true feature length film.