Masters of Horror: Brad Anderson – Sounds Like – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Directed by
Brad Anderson

Cast:
Chris Bauer … Larry Pearce
Matty Finochio … Tech
Laura Margolis … Brenda
Matthew Burgess … Tech 3
Blaine Anderson … Tech 2
Linnea Sharples … Tech 1
Nicholas Elia … Larry’s Son
Grant Elliott … Doctor
Richard Kahan … David
Robert Underwood … Father
Jaida Kong … Daughter
Michael Daingerfield … Jim


The Episode:

While continuing to watch all the episodes of Masters of Horror, you start to realize that the directors that manage to pull off the really successful installments are the ones that are able to fully utilize the budgets they are given. Each film maker is apparently given about $2 million an episode, and when entries end up too focused on gore or big stars, but not enough on proper costuming or other aspects of the production that will make it truly believable, the entire episode ends up suffering. This is why it doesn’t surprise me to find out that when Brad Anderson, a director used to working on a small scale, put together his entry “Sounds Like” it ended up one of the best of the entire series.

Larry Pearce (Chris Bauer) is a man who is grieving. Even though his sense of hearing is almost superhuman, making him the perfect man to help run a technical support center, his talents weren’t enough to help him save his son from a terrible heart ailment. Channeling his pain through his duties at work, Pearce’s sense becomes greater and greater, letting him bury himself in his day to day duties with the company. Only Larry starts to lose control of his power, and instead his hearing is starting to control him, and slowly drive him mad. With his need for silence growing, so does Larry’s isolation. The problem is, with everyday sounds growing louder and louder, his sanity can’t hold out much longer.

Much like a carefully crafted short story, “Sounds Like” is excellently paced in its build up, resulting in maximum effect for its climax. This is the best example of psychological horror that I’ve seen on the series, and shows Brad Anderson to be a major talent in the director’s chair, much like he demonstrated in his films Session 9 and The Machinist. Anderson builds his story slowly, taking the entire hour to really keep ratcheting up the tension. He starts with hints of the sounds that are really bothering Larry, and then slowly isolates Pearce from everyone from his co-workers to his wife. Awkward confrontations and social situations are highlighted by sounds that eventually rampage against Larry’s ears and his psyche.

Chris Bauer throws himself completely into this role, and somehow strikes an interesting balance of being a man that is terrifying, and also being able to sympathize with the character. He is at the same time trying to connect with those that will listen to his problem, but his affliction causes him to shy away. All the way to the end of this piece, you’re constantly surprised by the way you feel about Larry, and a lot of that is due to Bauer’s performance.

Two unsung heroes of this episode would also include the sound department, who orchestrated the brilliant sound design throughout this entry and Composer Anton Sanko, who produced the best score of any episode of this series. The sound design in this piece is stunning, as each magnified sound is terrifically exaggerated, but a perfect match for whatever instance they are using. Sanko’s score highlights this episode wonderfully, especially in a sequence where Larry is finally going manic on the streets of his city. This is a terrific scene and a standout moment for Sanko.

All of this adds up to a terrific episode of Masters of Horror, as Brad Anderson and other creators on this installment completely outclass a lot of the other film makers that have worked on this show. Right now, only Takashi Miike’s “Imprint” and Stuart Gordon’s “Black Cat” really outrank this episode, which may actually be the most accessible of all three. “Sounds Like” may have neglected to use big names and strayed away from the barrage of gore some episodes have had, but in the end, it gives us a story that is truly frightening because of its very human monster.


The DVD:

The Video
As always, Starz does a terrific job with this print. The episode is presented in a terrifically bright picture with no visible flaws. The episode is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.77:1

The Audio
The Audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and also sounds terrific. Needless to say, without a good track on this disc, this episode would not be nearly as effective and because of the transfer, the sound design on this episode is crisp and clear.


SPECIAL FEATURES:

Audio Commentary by Director Brad Anderson – Anderson spends a lot of time on this track talking about how important sound design was to this film. He goes over how it was especially important to choose sounds that would properly reproduce the magnified sound they needed, whether they were looking at a fly or a drop of water.

Aural Madness – Much of the cast and crew are interviewed in this 12 minute Featurette and everyone seems most impressed by just how prepared Brad Anderson was for this shoot. Apparently his attention to detail is phenomenal, which really comes across in the episode. Again, sound design is also highlighted, as we get to scenes without finished sound and you can see just how important those elements are to the story.

A Cacophony of Sounds Like – This only goes about five minutes, but is still a pretty fun Featurette, as get to interview some of the more peculiar people that worked on this piece, from the make-up guys, to fish wranglers, to extras who got to be in the episode by winning a contest.

Trailers – You get trailers for Hatchet as well as trailers for nearly every episode of Masters of Horror.

Photo Gallery

Original Script

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Masters of Horror: Sounds Like
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE EPISODE

9
THE VIDEO

8
THE AUDIO

9
THE EXTRAS

6
REPLAY VALUE

9
OVERALL
8.5
(NOT AN AVERAGE)