Two documentary filmmakers try to expose a mysterious cult leader in Sound of My Voice.
Director: Zal Batmanglij
MPAA Rating: R
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Sound of My Voice is strange, hypnotic and compelling. A feature film debut directed and co-written by Zal Batmanglij, the unsettling film not only stars but is also produced by co-screenwriter Brit Marling.
Marling hauntingly and convincingly plays the central figure in a dangerous and scary Los Angeles-based cult. She’s a mysterious, charismatic blonde with an unspecified life-threatening illness who requires constant blood transfusions and specialty grown food, which her followers are all too willing to provide. Part waif, part tyrant, she claims to be from another time and dimension and, riddled with inconsistencies, she becomes the focus and obsession of an undercover investigation by aspiring documentarians and live-in lovers played by Christopher Denham and Nicole Vicius.
Armed with hidden cameras, skepticism and humor, they try penetrating a mystery that only becomes murkier and more troubling as their own relationship is put to the test. What really works in this quiet, troubling suspense horror story is the sharp writing and direction, the persuasive performances and how information is withheld. We’re constantly playing catch-up with the documentarians but the sense of dread is constant. The bizarre details of the young couple’s immersion into the cult—the blindfolding, the ritual showers, the hidden locations, the secret handshakes—are darkly funny and beautifully depicted. Sound of My Voice, which leaves lots of unanswered questions by the finale, marks a very impressive debut.