Aside from its other various redeeming qualities, Sound of My Voice is living, big-screening (select-theater) proof that it is possible to create fresh and vivid cinema on a shoestring budget. The location list is lean, including a basement in the San Fernando Valley where a cult leader — an attractive and charismatic blonde woman claiming to be from the future (Brit Marling) — holds forth with her posse of believers. Among those devotees are a young couple (Christopher Denham and Nicole Vicius) secretly plotting to make a documentary to expose the cult as a fraud.
But is it fraud? Is it a para-terrorist plot afoot, or a lost soul from 2054, prepared to warn us naïve early-21st-century citizens of the doomsday scenario to come? Only the ticket purchaser and plot spoiler know for sure.
Within this stripped-down scenario, a little self-enclosed dramatic world is created, like the unexplained structures made from black Legos by a mystical little girl who will figure into this time-twisting plot. We’re trained, by cinematic experience and rules of the genre, to expect some blood and guts or shock tactics as part of the package here. But this unusual take on the psychological suspense genre, cult division, has ideas and themes of its own that don’t necessarily require anything more than an innocent vomit fest. Even that scene arrives with a (ahem) cathartic backstory attached.
Big-budget production values and cheesy scary-movie gymnastics aren’t required to instill a sense of foreboding and mystery in us here. What unfolds is a casual examination of the psychological machinations of cult behavior mixed with a scent of sci-fi and psychosexual intrigue, and the loaded enigma of a secret handshake.