When Scandinavian director Antonio Tublen’s 2013 film LFO came across my desk, I wasn’t sure what to expect—the film’s synopsis gives you a brief idea of where the story is headed, with a introverted scientist experimenting with sound waves until he makes an astonishing discovery, only to have his experiment unravel out of his control. But even with that description, I was expecting more of an evil-experiment-gone-wrong scenario versus the psychological themes of morality and megalomania centered around this lonely main character.
The film begins with Robert, an amateur scientist who is plagued with tinnitus after his wife and son were killed in a car accident. The tinnitus keeps Robert awake all night, leading him to spend hours and hours in his basement with a small studio set-up, trying to find a way to relive the ringing in his ears. During his research, he discovers a combination of four frequencies that when played together, cause him to completely relax, with no memory of what occurred while he was under the trance. With his new discovery, Robert begins running tests on himself, recording instructions while he is under the sound wave hypnosis to ‘eat less cookies’ and ‘get more sleep.’ When the hypnosis seems to become effective, Robert turns to new test subjects, putting his new neighbors under the same trance.
As Robert realizes the power this discovery has given him, he begins abusing it, stripping his neighbors of their free thoughts and using them to create a fantasy world completely under his control. Haunted by the memory of his wife and son though, he eventually realizes the immoral factors to his research, and begins to find new ways use his discovery for good.
In short, I’d call the film bizarre. It’s definitely artsy, and not something for everyone, but does provide you with the twist and turns you would want from a sci-fi psycho thriller. If nothing more, the director puts the audio equipment front and center throughout the film, giving it an eerie, horror film look you normally don’t see when looking at a mixing board and loudspeakers.
The film has won four international film festival awards, and currently holds a 78 percent rating on RottenTomatoes.com, and is shown in its original Swedish with subtitles.
LFO on Amazon