THE HOLY SOUND – Echoes of things to Come?

by Chris Conway

The Holy Sound – Echoes of Things to Come?

The live action short is an area of cinema the casual viewers rarely get to experience. By definition, these are non-animated, narrative films of 60 min or less in length. They are usually relegated to regional film festivals or art houses (remember those). Often the product of film school projects or unaffiliated passionate young filmmakers, some of the biggest and brightest got their start in this restrictive structure. In some cases the “powers that be” in Hollywood see something in one of these films, which compels them to seek out and hire the director to helm one of their “Big” projects. In other cases, the short gets a second life and is expanded and remade as a full length feature a’la- Slingblade which was started as a stage monolog, turned short film call Some Folks Call it a Slingblade.

Based on my two viewing of The Holy Sound by writer/director Nicholas Wagner – I can confidently say that some forward thinking Hollywood executive will ensure Mr. Wagner sees his way to directing a full length feature…possibly an expanded version of the film in question.

The plot of this 50 min film is simple and direct. Rory a fast-talking, wise-ass, high school journalist is directed to a hidden cave- via a dream- near his home where he discovers a naturally illuminated obelisk. The stone monolith emits a sound, which has a euphoric drug like effect on those who hear it. The mysterious object is fueled by blood – setting off a frenzy of terror for those who hear The Holy Sound.

Relying largely on natural light and an appropriate mix of hand-held and stationary camera – Wagner has a very fluid and keen eye for filling the frame and moving the narrative visually. The scenes in the cave are just dark enough to force the view to squint a bit to see if they can see more of the obelisk than Wagner wants you too see.

Wagner also plays with themes of religion, philosophy, politics and the deconstruction of the family unit, which adds layers of depth and complexity to his seeming basic plot. He raises a number of questions regarding religion’s place in contemporary society as it relates to modern sensibilities and regressing political views.

The actors are all competent in their roles – and if anything under-play their parts rather than overplay, which is often the case with independent films relaying on inexperienced actors.

Ironically the only area of the film, which could use some technical cleaning up in is the sound track. The editing of the voice dubbing is easily heard and at times the background noise makes it hard to hear the actors. There are also some dialogue syncing issues that could be cleaned up. Normally such short-comings would be overlooked, however since the plot is driven by sound I think is would be in the filmmaker’s best interest to address these minor issues.

I am confident that The Holy Sound will get a fair bit of positive attention as it makes the festival circuit. I will also be sure to keep my eye on the name Nicholas Wagner as I expect some good things from him in the very near future.

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