One of the perks of screening films at the SXSW Film Festival is coming across unique avant-garde stylized flicks that you don’t see play at other festivals. In this year’s fest, a film that has been described as an auditory slasher flick, Sound of Violence, premiered during the Midnighters lineup.
Alexis (Jasmin Savoy Brown) recovered her hearing after witnessing the brutal murder of her family when she was ten. The visceral experience awakened synesthetic abilities in her and started her on an orphaned path of self-discovery through the healing tones of brutal violence. In BGN’s second interview with Brown after playing public defender Allison Adams in the ABC Shondaland series For the People, Brown chats with again over the phone about her latest work in this unique horror thriller.
Give our readers an elevator pitch of what Sound of Violence is about.
Sound of Violence is about this young girl, Alexis. She was born hearing, And then she lost her hearing to an accident when she was young. On the night her dad returns home from overseas, he kills her family. And she kills him to save herself. When she does that, she recovers her hearing and also gains synesthetic abilities. The synesthesia is triggered anytime she hears the sounds of flesh being battered, so she wants to keep seeing all of these colors, and she’s addicted to that high.
This is an incredibly unique story featuring a Black female villain. What led you to become a part of this story?
The casting director, Amy Renee, she’s amazing. She cast me in the first movie I was ever in which is called Laggies. And that was back when I was, like, 18, and I lived in Oregon. We stayed in touch, and she’s good friends with my agent. So she brought this movie to us, and was like, “Listen, this is wild, different, and out of the box. Give it a try and just read it.” And we all loved it. We loved this is complex, serial killer role, written for a woman, and in my case, a queer Black woman, and I loved that. It didn’t shy away from the blood and grossness, and this darkness, and that it wasn’t softened simply because. And I loved it, so I set a meeting with the director, and the rest was history.
There are some intense moments your character experiences in the film. Were there any scenes that felt too extreme for you?
One of the murders was a little bit intense. It wasn’t too hard, it just was intense. And I had to really think about it and make sure that my brain was in a good space for sure.
When you say you needed your brain to be in a good space, were there moments where you needed to take a break and practice some self-care in between filming scenes?
Yes and no. For me, in this film, I liked cracking a lot of jokes and being funny. I’m pretty easily able to separate myself from my character, so it was just keeping it light and having a good time.
It seems you’re developing a knack for the horror genre. You also will appear in the new Scream reboot. Do you think with films like Us and His House that there is a Black renaissance happening in the horror genre?
Oh, yes. Oh my gosh yes. Isn’t that so exciting? Watch horror get ten times better. Hello, we’ve been telling you! Hire us! We make things better. No one’s surprised. And I’ll just leave it at that.
Do they still use corn syrup for blood in these horror films? Because there was a lot of blood in this movie.
Sometimes. It’s different on different films. On Sound of Violence, there was a lot of chocolate and soap. I don’t know why, I guess for different colors and textures. But yeah, they were really into chocolate and soap in this film.
Are there any scenes that still stick with you?
All of my scenes with Lili were just a blast. She’s a dream. A dreamboat human. And we had a lot of fun together. As for one scene in particular? All of them! [Laughs.] We had a lot of fun together and I’m so proud of her. She’s off shooting something new right now, and I miss her.
With a movie like this that does take on such a violent tone, do you ever get concerned how it would be interpreted to viewers? Especially given where we are now with how violent our society has become?
No, because I believe that 99.9% of people understand that movies are escapism and that we turn them on, knowing full well they’re not a reflection of reality. That it’s just entertainment. So, no, I don’t worry about that.
We know about the Scream film coming. What else is next for you?
I recently was lucky to join the cast of Yellowjackets for Showtime. We’re about to start shooting that in a couple of months and that’ll come out later this year. I’m very excited about that. It’s a show about a group of high school girls soccer team. They’re on their way to nationals, when their plane goes down. And they spend the next 19 months trying to survive, and it flashes back and forth between that time and 20 years in the future.
I’ve been talking about this for years, so I’m finally recording music. I did my first concert over Zoom a few weeks ago, and I’m in the studio right now recording two singles that should be coming out soon.
Sound of Violence is currently screening at the SXSW Film Festival. The 2021 SXSW film festival will run virtually online March 16–20, 2021.
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Jamie Broadnax is the creator of the online publication and multimedia space for Black women called Black Girl Nerds. Jamie has appeared on MSNBC's The Melissa Harris-Perry Show and The Grio's Top 100. Her Twitter personality has been recognized by Shonda Rhimes as one of her favorites to follow. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association and executive producer of the Black Girl Nerds Podcast.