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Poster Lab: Sound of My Voice

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Poster Lab: <em>Sound of My Voice</em>

Mystery seems to shroud every aspect of Fox Searchlight’s Sound of My Voice, a micro-budgeted curio snatched up by the specialty branch at Sundance 2011. Plenty of good ink followed the movie’s festival premiere (including a list-topping IndieWIRE citation), but try to find a great deal of official online content, and you’ll come up surprisingly short. The cryptic buzz continues with the release of the film’s second poster, a dog-eared and thrice-unfolded secret-handshake diagram, which relegates the sonar-style title to the bottom right corner.

The only way to gain an inkling as to what this drawing represents is to watch the 12-minute snippet Fox Searchlight unveiled on Thursday, showing the film’s entire opening chapter. Turns out there are all kinds of initiation rituals necessary to enter the movie’s cult microcosm, including the Miss Mary Mack action shown here, airline style.

I wouldn’t exactly rush to call this poster artful, but it’s certainly one of the more intriguing one-sheets to go viral this year, its WTF factor just as juicy as that of the best Being John Malkovich design, to which the wrinkled red hand signals hold a definite relation. Like Malkovich, Sound of My Voice also boasts time travel, but unless you chilled at Sundance or can beam yourself to April 27, precisely how remains, yes, rather mysterious.

The “Chapter One” tease for the Brit Marling thriller, which the meteoric multi-hyphenate premiered alongside her manslaughter-atonement bummer Another Earth (once again, Marling writes, produces, and stars), is one of the most enticing examples of scenes-as-trailer I’ve seen since the trend grew popular. It certainly beats the pants off of the leaked diner fight from Haywire. Sound of My Voice concerns a filmmaking couple who go undercover and join a society to unmask its leader (Marling), a tattooed and curiously ailing blonde who, in the clip, looks much like she does in the initial poster shopped around months back. The couple gains access by acing the hand claps seen on our beat-up wall-hanging, a scene that instantly recalls the Xi Chi rite of passage from Todd Phillips’s Road Trip. Surely there’s manipulation at play here, and a lack of payoff would come as no surprise, but each new piece of this movie’s promo puzzle confirms the rare pleasure of being led on and turned on at once.