An interesting LA-based thriller with science-fiction overtones, Sound Of My Voice may remind some art house patrons of the recent Martha Marcy May Marlene when it comes to its subtlety and open-endedness. In the latter, Sean Durkin was able to create a cinematic anodyne through his heady headliner, played by Elizabeth Olsen. Here, Georgetown grad Zal Batmanglij uses cult conventions to immediate, shifty effect with a number of medium close-ups as a couple is intent on getting material for their documentary.
Batmanglij has a premise which may be dismissed as baloney by more than a few as unassuming Peter (Christopher Denham) and former party girl Lorna (Nicole Vicius) observe less of a commune experience when it comes to the fashion and initiations, including secret handshakes and blindfolds. Inside the lived-in environment is the mysterious (claiming to be from the future) Maggie who runs the place and keeps her disciples on their toes. A woman in need of blood transfusions tells of a post-apocalyptic paradise.
Within the filmmaking flash, the viewer may be caught between Lorna's cynicism and Peter's curiosity which perilously threatens their harmony more than expected with Maggie leading the way. It invites much interpretation when it comes to issues like fidelity and social acceptance in a tale numerically compiled and probably less philosophical implications. The dilemma that confronts Peter may belie a hypocrisy which isn't crucial to the apprehension that serves as tautly rendered entertainment of humanistic discomfort. Character expression isn't really necessary, too, with glimpses into the lives of Lorna and Peter who'll become a bit combative.
Yet, Brit Marling (who impressed some in the recent metaphysical Another Earth) has enough to do with the tension as Maggie, an inveigling presence that grips when it comes to self-determination and independence. Though the finish of this modern tale of cults populated with some fetching folks may be ambiguously off-putting, there's a disarming, gradually creepy sound to cap what gives this Voice the power of the unknown.