Lo-fi black comedy about a trance-inducing sound engineer
Maladjusted sound technician Robert (Patrik Karlson) has stumbled upon an amazing discovery: a sound frequency which immediately puts the listener into a hypnotic trance, susceptible to any suggestion they might hear. Armed with speakers, a pair of headphones and his own depthless amorality, Robert sets out to change the world.
Much of the humour in this deadpan black comedy arises from Robert's pedantic desire to test his discovery thoroughly – he uses his new neighbours (played by Johanna Tschig and Per Löfberg) as guinea pigs, but his mistakes and oversights with them prevent him from inflicting his masterplan on a larger population. This small-scale approach is a savvy move on the part of writer-director Antonio Tublen (who also wrote the score), as it stops the plot (and budget) spinning too wildly out of control while allowing the main players to fully develop their characters. Löfberg in particular deserves credit for his pliant, doe-eyed Simon – an understated yet hilarious victim of Robert's increasingly frustrated plans.
The restricted setting and deliberate, methodical pace may leave some audiences fidgeting, and Tublen's last-act feels like a purposefully cheap gag, but LFO is nevertheless a consistently humorous lo-fi sci-fi story. Fans of the similarly sound-obsessed Berberian Sound Studio may want to consider it as a less intense companion piece.
Reviewed as part of Glasgow Film Festival 2014.