Hear True

Come True’s score is stuck at 11, befitting a movie that does the most from the jump without ever letting up (for better and for worse).

And yet, there might be a method to the madness of this cinematic cacophony, which only occurred to me in the final scene, with a seemingly-tiny detail: when the movie’s score incorporates the sound of a character’s cell phone ringing into the music.

A movie’s aural landscape usually operates on two levels. The first is rooted primarily in the sound design, encompassing all the sounds that the characters — and, thus, us — hear within the movie’s reality. The second level is grounded more in the score; the noises and music the filmmakers add that the characters can’t hear, creating a second aural reality that only the audience is privy to. 

These two levels of aural reality can be easily differentiated in most movies; the sound design constitutes the first, and the score the second. But horror movies love to fill the first with supernatural, surreal, spooky noises that are not directly linked to a cause-and-effect, “this action creates this sound” on screen. Especially in movies with minimalist visual schemes, the sound design can let us know that something seriously messed up is going on in this haunted house, even if we can’t see the problem, and even if the characters can’t hear the problem that the sound design teases to us is coming for them.

Come True inherits this recipe and adds a nifty ingredient. The movie’s second-level sound effects start taking on a rhythmic quality, almost like music. And since the electronic-heavy score is already comprised of otherworldly noises, the demarcation line between the two levels begins to blur … in a movie about the thin osmosis between dreams and reality. If our waking reality is one level of reality, and if our dreams are another, and if they’re not as separate as we’d like to believe, Come True’s audio reflects these ideas. Its sound design is not reserved only for sound effects the characters hear; at times, the musicalish noises only the audience hears seem to come from a different reality, related to but not directly representative of what’s on screen. 

And the aforementioned cell phone ring marks the point in the story when the conventional barrier between dreams and reality completely breaks. The ring — a first-level sound effect that the characters can hear within their reality — becomes subsumed into the score, a second-level reality the characters can’t hear; only the audience can.

Regarding the movie’s visual aesthetic: the dream sequences are more Silent Hill than the actual Silent Hill movie (true story: I didn’t even know a sequel existed until immediately prior to writing this sentence). The dreams also have that Exorcist, “back down the hallway we go” effect, but instead of instilling sheer dread, it’s more like “time to take another hit”. 

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