Sounds Like (2006)

DVD Cover (Anchor Bay)
Genres: Horror, Psychological Thriller, Thriller
Deeply affected by a personal tragedy, an office drone comes to realize his sense of hearing has taken on extraordinary capabilities that could drive him insane. --IMDb
Brad Anderson Brad Anderson
Chris Bauer Chris Bauer
Matty Finochio Matty Finochio
Laura Margolis Laura Margolis
Matthew Burgess Matthew Burgess
Blaine Anderson Blaine Anderson
Movie Connections:
Masters Of Horror: Season 2
> The Damned Thing (2006)
> Family (2006)
> The V Word (2006)
> Pro-Life (2006)
> Sounds Like (2006)
> Pelts (2006)
> The Screwfly Solution (2006)
> Valerie On The Stairs (2006)
> Right To Die (2007)
> We All Scream For Ice Cream (2007)
> The Black Cat (2007)
> The Washingtonians (2007)
> Dream Cruise (2007)

6.2 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: July 05, 2009
It turns out that I saved the best for last. That was the thought that went through my head after the credits rolled on Sounds Like, the final Masters of Horror entry (well, the last one in my completely out-of-order list). It was no accident that I watched this one last, because I knew that it would either be the best episode or the biggest disappointment of the season, and whichever one it turned out to be, it was only fitting that it came last. My reason for this line of thinking is that Brad Anderson, while a fine director with some impressive films under his belt, just doesn't seem like a "master of horror" at this point in his career. Session 9 was an amazing movie, but does one horror movie a master make? I didn't think so, but I may have to reevaluate that after seeing his latest contribution to the genre.

We begin with an introduction to Larry Pearce (Chris Bauer), a tech support supervisor who spends his days listening in as his workers provide support for a popular software program. We also learn that he's going through a rough time in his life, as his six-year-old son died just a couple of years ago and he is still taking it pretty bad. There's also an element of guilt there: you see, Larry has unusually keen hearing, keen to the point that he was the one who discovered his son's heart problem by simply listening to his irregular heartbeat. Unfortunately, he discovered it too late to get his son the help that he needed, and thus, he continues living with his heightened sense of hearing while spending his days in a thankless job before going home to a wife (Laura Margolis) that he doesn't particularly love.

The story takes a turn towards the interesting when his hearing gets really good. Now, it started off as a helpful thing: being able to hear whispers from across the room, or hearing his workers instant messaging one another on their phones from his booth. However, it gets to the point that listening to raindrops falling on his car is like listening to a sledgehammer pounding the side of a barrel, and hearing a fly walking on a window in between spurts of cleaning its legs is downright torture. This is where his grip on sanity starts to slip, and this is where I'm going to end the synopsis so that you can experience the rest of the tale for yourself.

At its core, Sounds Like is unofficially a modernized retelling of a story made famous by Edgar Allen Poe (I won't say which one, but it should be obvious based on the title and premise). Poe is one of those authors who wrote so much good material and provided so many filmmakers with inspiration for movies that could have been classics, but sadly, there are only a few filmmakers who managed to take that material and made it work. Even though it's technically not an adaptation of the man's work (though the similarities are certainly there), Brad Anderson's film is one of those few that worked... and it worked damned well.

I have to say that this film featured some of the best writing from the entire season - hell, maybe even from the entire series. It's an incredible story filled with horror, heartache, and yes, even some pure emotion, and even though one can probably guess the ending before it's actually revealed courtesy of the adaptation thing that I mentioned above, you never find yourself looking at the clock. Watching this film is like watching one of your favorite movies for the fiftieth time: you may know exactly where it's going, but you're enjoying it nonetheless. I will say that the film leaves us with some unanswered questions when all is said and done, but this is one of those things that can be overlooked.

One of the biggest things working in the film's favor is its usage of sound to truly immerse the audience in the film. With a premise dealing with sound and its effect on our leading man, one would expect that the boys responsible for this film paid particular attention to that piece of the puzzle - and one would be correct. I have never heard a fly clean itself, but listening to it here, I can fully understand how it would annoy the piss out of someone. I have never heard the sound of knitting needles clanking together amplified by about a hundred, but if I had to listen to my wife do that night in and night out, I fully believe that I too would snap. These audio tricks do get incredibly annoying as the film progresses, but that's not a complaint: it puts us in the leading man's shoes, and it shows us just what it is that he's dealing with.

Sounds Like is by far the best episode of the second season of Masters of Horror, and were it not for last season's Imprint, I'd probably go on record as saying that it's the best of the entire series. You've got a damned strong story that holds your interest from start to finish, you've got incredible acting from Chris Bauer in the leading role, and even though it's one of the tamer entries in terms of effects, there is at least one scene that gorehounds will enjoy. I can't quite say that it's a perfect film as it does have a small hole in its logic (you'll see what I mean when you watch it), but if you can ignore that, you'll find that this is not only a highlight of the television series, but a highlight of Brad Anderson's career. When you look at the films that he has released thus far, you'll see how big of a compliment that truly is. 9/10.
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