Sunday, May 5, 2013

DVD Review: The Holy Sound

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2013
Images from the Internet                            

The Holy Sound
Directed and written by Nicholas Wagner (plus Producer, Editor, Composer, Production Manager, Location Manager, and Script Supervisor)                                  
50 minutes, 2013

As this relatively short 50-minute film starts we meet three… friends? These high school students – and, thankfully, they look to be close to that – are loners and outcasts, whose orbits circle around each other as they are self-absorbed in their own troubled lives, rather than connecting with each other, as are nearly all the roles.

A very different looking Ian Carmona

The central character is Rory, played by the tall and lanky, bedroom-eyed Ian Carmona, with the right touch of snark and hurt, as he uses his distance and verbal claws to protect himself from the fact that his dad died substance dependent. He tries to both find someone to care about him, while at the same time fearing that very intimacy.

His best friend is the shy and nerdy Sam, who is kind of pathetic, while trying to fight his own loneliness through religion. He is the most likeable of the characters, touching a nerve of the viewer. The ironically named Christian Adams tends to play him appropriately looking a bit like a deer in the headlights, as he both tries to stand up for himself, and fighting the desire to close himself off to his own thoughts and Jesus. He also has a crush on Rory’s ex-girlfriend (and sometimes sex buddy), Parker.

Elyse Dufour
Parker, played by the lovely (Maxim mag apparently agrees) redheaded Elyse Dufour, is also a contradiction. She uses sex as both a weapon and a way to temporarily achieve moments of intimacy. Living with her overprotective (via fear) dad and a having a mom who ran away, she apparently cannot think beyond the moment without feeling overwhelmed.

Additional characters include Rory’s foil /arch-enemy and Parker’s sometimes love interest is Liam (Jack McGale, who seems very comfortable in his role; he does a great job for that character), a terrible wannabe rocker; Rory’s school newspaper advisor and somewhat mentor, Art (Bart Debicki), who would be fired in real life if he was caught talking as he does to a student; and a veeeeery cringe-worthy pastor (Tom Myers, a stand-up comic who seems to be making a career out of pastors and part of a group of G-Men).

The plotline is simple at its complex personality core: Rory stumbles upon a cave (that he found through a dream, apparently). Inside is an obelisk that omits a strange and terrible wailing noise (perhaps it’s playing Metal Machine Music…no, I kid) that seems to have an effect on those who hear it, similar to an exultant drug. But as with many mind-altering substances, even sound apparently, the need increases and in this case there is, well, chasing the dragon’s roar, figuratively speaking.

As Rory and Parker slowly succumb to the enrapturing wail, it starts to quiet down; much as with Rory’s dream, they seem to know what the next step is to keep it going, and they are willingly advocates. In fact, Parker can be seen as an Eve figure in the story. One may be able to interpret this as patriarchally masculinist (not sure if this is redundant) envisioning, but I understand it to the story, as part of Parker’s personality crisis (“If frustration and heartache is what you got,” as the New York Dolls may have said in this context).

Much of the acting is on the subdued side without being wooden, as opposed to most indies where the performances are too huge for the story. Considering many of the actors have this listed as their only credit, it is remarkable.

The story is strong, and while there isn’t a whole lot of character development other than expository comments, the motivation for actions is understandable, so kudos. My two minor notes is that some of the image are a bit dark (well, the obelisk is in a cave, after all), and there is a bit too many close-ups, making it hard to tell what is happening at the moment. These are common rookie mistakes, but as a whole, it’s easy to see that director Wagner has a lot of potential, and I look forward to seeing more of his output.

Meanwhile, this film will probably be showing up at film festivals, so I recommend checking it out. I get the feeling that it may win a few awards, and you can say you saw Wagner’s work back-when.

The film can seen for free at Enjoy!

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