First Sound of My Voice Trailer: Time-traveling Cult Leaders and Psychological Warfare

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We've been excited about Sound of My Voice ever since it drew rave reactions at Sundance. Now you can check out the first trailer, watch the movie's first 12 minutes, and get our spoiler-y report from the movie's Wonder-Con panel.


The first trailer is up above, and the first twelve minutes of the film - which also screened at Wonder-Con - can be found at the movie's official site. The footage shows the induction of some new members into a mysterious cult located somewhere in the San Fernando Valley. The cult's leader is a young woman named Maggie, who claims to be a time traveler from the year 2054. As we see in the trailer, two of those new members are actually investigative journalists out to expose her as a con artist... but things might not be that simple.

The movie is the work of director Zal Batmanglij and star Brit Marling (Another Earth, Britta's non-girlfriend on Community), who also wrote the film together. As they explained at the Wonder-Con panel, the movie grew out of their interest in cults and fringe groups, and they shot the film for virtually no money — they said the entire cast and crew basically worked for nothing — all around the Los Angeles area, often in people's basements. As you can see from the 12-minute sneak peek, they manage to make suburban basements surprisingly cinematic.

As for the film's premise, Maggie's story is that she is one of a number of time travelers who have been sent backwards in time. According to her, she woke up in a bathroom a few years ago with no memories and a shattered immune system, and it was only with the help of Klaus, who knew of the existence of such people, that she was able to figure out where - or, in this case, when - she came from. At the panel, Batmanglij explained that 2012 has far more infections and microorganisms than 2054, which is why all cult members must scrub themselves clean before coming into contact with Maggie, and that's also the stated reason why they can't know precisely where she lives.

Illustration for article titled First Sound of My Voice Trailer: Time-traveling Cult Leaders and Psychological Warfare

They didn't go too far into the mechanics of Maggie's supposed time traveling, but what they did say was pretty intriguing. A key part of the premise is that all time travelers have anchor tattoos on their foot, which also tells them the year they came from - in this case, the "54" means 2054. Klaus's claim is that all time travel uses water as a medium and that the first time travelers were discovered by ancient sailors, hence the anchor connection. Of course, as Batmanglij was quick to point out, that all might be bullshit.

Whether or not the movie is actually science fiction, it's definitely a psychological thriller that peers into the mind of cults and their leaders. Marling pointed out that most cult leaders are men and that they were interested in exploring a cult led by a woman, who might play upon both her maternal and seductive qualities to exert power over her followers. Batmanglij promised that, whether she's telling the truth about time travel or not, "Maggie gets vicious" and "shit happens in that basement", although they left it as an open question whether Maggie is actually the film's villain or not. Indeed, as you've probably gathered by now, this is a movie that is all about ambiguity and multiple interpretations.


Everything we've seen of this suggests its massively positive early buzz is well-earned, and this looks like exactly the sort of story that is perfect for low budget sci-fi. Of course, you can now see everything we've seen, so feel free to judge for yourself, and we shouldn't have long to wait to settle the even bigger question of just who Maggie really is - the movie is set to open April 27.



I'm not really seeing this as science fiction. The only speculative element at all is the notion that she MIGHT be from the future. If time-travel doesn't actually play into the story...if you could replace that element with a mundane one and not change the story at all...then it doesn't strike me as anything other than a decent human drama.

I'm not commenting on the quality of the movie: just the notion that it's science fiction. Also, I'm not much of a fan of ambiguity in movies like this: it seems more like a cop-out for telling an actual story. I'm sure this will provide no answers, because the writers don't actually know and most likely don't care. Which is another reason it likely isn't SF.