Perfectly sandwiched in between two very dark and serious films is the more light-hearted Tone Death. This horror comedy follows a wannabe techno music producer in his mid 40s (Roger Armstrong), who believes he has developed a sound that will take human consciousness “out of their body to the next level”. He begins to test his theory using a homemade booth on unsuspecting subjects, with the help of his best friend, (John Hickman) leading to deadly consequences.
Tone Death is a horror comedy mockumentary that has its tongue firmly in cheek while at its heart it poses a simple question: What extremes would you go to for something you believed in?
The majority of the film is seen through the lens of a documentary filmmaker that is hired to document Roger’s making of an album. As events unfold, the story becomes about a modern day, techno fanatical Geordie Frankenstein, in which a man’s unhinged dedication to creating the perfect musical frequency to release human consciousness becomes sinister and deadly.
As Roger’s unsteadiness develops, so too does his agitation with John, who acts as the Igor of the film. The best laughs in the film come from John and Roger’s interactions, which feel natural and authentic, with John being the Ying to Roger’s Yang until the climax and where the viewer starts to see deterioration in their friendship. The supporting cast themselves serve as plot points in the story and don’t particualrly stand out, with the exception being a hilarious drunk (played by the film’s special effects artist Stephen Robertson), who almost steals the show in the few scenes he is in.
I have to compliment the talented camera work and editing in the film, as it overcomes the more logistical and financial barriers that often impact low-budget indie horror. Effective editing techniques include a glitch effect when Roger’s audio frequencies reach their maximum intensity, and after a cut to black, the result is revealed. This gets across how dangerous Roger’s sound is to the viewer with great impact and little cost.
Tone Death is a funny watch, as the audience and myself were constantly laughing and engaged with the story. I recommend this also for aspiring filmmakers looking for original stories made on a small budget and for viewers who appreciate dark humour and the mash-up of genres.
You can view our full list of reviews from Triple Six Festival here.