Film Review: The Sound

A debunker sets out to disprove an urban legend, but things don't go as planned in this tedious horror movie.
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Detroit-based Kelly Johansen (Rose McGowan) has forged a tidy little career for herself finding natural explanations for supposedly paranormal phenomena: Her ungrammatical mission is to prove that "there is no such thing as ghosts!" So when she gets an anonymous tip about a supposedly haunted subway station in Toronto, she hops on a plane to investigate. Her specialty is using top-of-the-line sound equipment to detect sounds below the threshold of human hearing, and she figures this gig won't take more than half a day—Kelly plans to be home in time to go to a party with her boyfriend, Ethan (Richard Gunn).

Her destination is the Lower Bay station, which was only used briefly after it was constructed in 1966. It's been closed ever since but is relatively easily accessible from the active station directly above, and rumors that it's haunted by an eyeless woman in red have persisted for years (which is a real-life urban legend).

Once in the tunnel, Kelly finds a creepy old doll, some unthreatening young guys who don't go near where the lady supposedly died, a genial old maintenance man (Christopher Lloyd) and quirky Detective Richards (Michael Eklund). She experiences a lot of equipment problems—though, to be fair, that might just be pthat she is underground—and learns that the tunnel was not only built on the site of a paupers' graveyard but also on the ruins of Lakeview Psychiatric Hospital, which is a lot of baggage for a hole in the ground. Meanwhile, Kelly is tweeting everything she sees and starting to get seriously creeped out.

 

There's probably a scary movie to be made with this material, but The Sound, written and directed by actress Jenna Mattison, is not that movie. The premise is eerie, as any late-night subway rider knows when the platforms and tunnels are stripped of the safety-in-numbers factor of bustling crowds. But The Sound is surprisingly lacking in atmosphere, and Kelly's you-are-there tweets—complete with snarky hashtags—are more appropriate to a snotty teenager than a mature professional debunker (it's hard to imagine she's actually written books about anything), which suggests a more interesting narrative in which she's completely delusional rather than just a little high-strung. But that's not the case. Overall, The Sound feels far longer than its 92-minute running time, though it is nice to see veteran actor Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), however briefly.

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