At PSN, we’re always looking for new trends in pro audio, but one of the most surprising new ones is that audio pros are evil. Not you, of course (unless you happen to be evil). Rather, we’re talking about the ongoing trend in movies and TV where characters who are audio pros tend to be terrible, often violent people. The latest example can be found in a new indie horror flick, Sound of Violence, about an engineer over the edge.
Hitting theaters and On Demand on May 21, 2021, the film uses the audio aspect in a novel way, as indicated in the trailer’s synopsis on YouTube:
Alexis, a sound engineer, helps an aspiring musician, Josh, win the drum machine of his dreams in a competition at a mall. She mentors him and helps him find his groove to compose the winning beat. Once he submits his creation, it triggers a chain reaction revealing the competition booth to be a gruesome contraption. Through Josh’s beat and a horrific death, Alexis’ creative design comes to fruition, directing the macabre music she envisioned.
A film about killer sound design? Sure! Here’s a ‘more to the point’ Sound of Violence synopsis from the 2021 SXSW Film Festival:
A young girl recovers her hearing and gains synesthetic abilities during the brutal murder of her family. Finding solace in the sounds of bodily harm, as an adult, she pursues a career in music, composing her masterpiece through gruesome murders.
If that whets your appetite for more sound professionals doing terrible things, here’s some additional selections to cue up for your own personal audio-related horror festival:
• Shudder Network’s 2018 microseries Deadwax follows a vinyl collector tracking down an evil mastering engineer who created a record that kills anyone who listens to it.
• The creepy 2013 Scandinavian film, LFO, centers around a widowed amateur scientist who discovers that his experimental solution for tinnitus gives him total control over his neighbors.
• Also worthy of cuing up is 2012’s Berberian Sound Studio, starring Toby Jones as a horror film audio post engineer who can’t tell what’s real and what’s on the screen.
• And if you’d prefer a film where you can root for your fellow sound pro, you can always turn to Brian DePalma’s underrated 1981 thriller, Blow Out, where noble soundman John Travolta is on the run after he accidentally records evidence that a tragic car accident was in fact no accident at all.