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The Sound of My Voice
DIRECTOR: Zal Batmanglij
CAST: Christopher Denham, Nicole Vicius, Brit Marling
RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes
Cults fascinate people with their OTT rituals. For example, the infamous Jamestown Massacre, in which close to a thousand followers committed suicide – all in the name of a belief. It’s crazy and scary how easily someone can be led to believe something that could be potentially dangerous or even deadly, with all their heart.
In this drama thriller, two documentary film-makers, Peter (Denham) and Lorna (Vicius), set out to expose the fraudulent activities of a new cult they have discovered. They believe the cult’s leader, Maggie (Marling), is a fake.
After earning the group’s trust they are let into Maggie’s hideout. She stays in the basement of the holding and never leaves. Before entering the sanctuary, followers must scrub their bodies clean and don hospital gowns. They are then driven to the unknown location that is the cult leader’s dwelling.
Maggie claims to be from the year 2054 and says she was sent back in time to prepare people for the next stage of life. How she got here, she doesn’t know.
She shows very little evidence of her “future” state besides a tiny “54” tattooed on her ankle, and she is apparently allergic to all food that isn’t grown organically in-house. Dressed all in white, with long blonde locks, the svelte Maggie is a seductive and convincing leader.
With Peter and Lorna trying to uncover her as a fake, you begin to question during the film if they, too, are beginning to share the cult’s loyalty to the leader.
The film builds and builds with each meeting of the group, with a few strong dialogue-driven sequences that portray the startling reality of the situation.
Obscure scenes include vomiting sessions and eating earthworms as part of the rituals. As a viewer sitting through the happenings, you find yourself juggling feelings of how ridiculous this all is, judging the worshippers for their own insecurities and questioning what you would do in the same situation.
While the storyline is not at all sensible, the cinematography lends a nice clinical feel to this indie film.
In desperately trying to unravel the truth along with the characters, it’s all too disappointing as it comes across more as a TV pilot for some sci-fi series than a movie. The use of numbered chapters for every scene is testament to that. Before the film’s finale, you find yourself trying to piece everything together, but your expectations are left totally squashed with an unsatisfying, confused finish. There are just too many loose ends.
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