By Amylou Ahava
REVERBERANCE, the ASMR horror short directed and written by Alex DiVincenzo and T.J. Frizzi, attempts to explore the eerie side of everyday sounds within the brief span of three and a half minutes. The film centers around a woman (portrayed by Sherri Lee) going about her tranquil routine in her woodsy home until she encounters strange, unnatural sounds emanating from a peculiar humanoid creature lurking in the woods.
Now, ASMR (or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) is a phenomenon that triggers tingling and calming sensations often induced by whispers, tapping, and other gentle sounds. People turn to ASMR for relaxation and enjoyment as the sensations create a unique and intimate experience. It's a delicate balance between the subtle and the soothing. Unfortunately, REVERBERANCE fails to hit the right notes when it comes to incorporating ASMR into its horror narrative.
The film's budget constraints are evident, as the Creature (Brian Bouyea) is essentially the Greendale Human Being from the tv show "Community." However, a horror movie with a small budget and laughable monster is usually not enough to deter the average genre fan from watching. The issue with REVERBERANCE lies not in the creature's visual design but in the film's inability to deliver on its promise of ASMR horror. As a viewer who has been part of the ASMR community since its earlier days (when it was known as SOS), I found REVERBERANCE lacking in the creation of the tingling and calming sensations synonymous with the ASMR experience.
While intrigued by the idea of combining ASMR with horror (a genre rarely explored within the ASMR realm) the film falls short of understanding the nuances of ASMR. Instead of inducing tingles, REVERBERANCE introduces jarring sounds that disrupt the supposed ASMR sensations. The disconnect between the promise of ASMR horror and the execution of the soundscape is disappointing, leaving viewers without the expected sensory journey.
I was very curious to check out this short because ASMR can be connected to romance, sensualness, tension, or even humor, but few ASMR-ists have ventured into the horror genre. Some films have accidentally (or perhaps not accidently?) stumbled upon an ASMR moment (such as the tea stirring scene in Get Out), so combining the tingly experience with more fear inducing elements is possible. However, REVERBERANCE misses the mark by introducing sounds that are more unsettling than soothing, therefore contradicting the essence of ASMR.
Despite this misstep, the film's attempt to coin the term "ASMR horror" may pave the way for future directors (particularly those who experience the tingles) to delve into creating spooky and haunting films. This could potentially create a conflicting experience for viewers who seek the soothing embrace of ASMR to help them sleep (only to find themselves on edge) haunted by the fear of what quietly goes bump in the night.
In the end, REVERBERANCE falls short of delivering a genuine ASMR horror experience, leaving audiences wanting more of the promised tingles and less of the jarring sounds that disrupt the delicate balance between relaxation and fear.
What are your thoughts on REVERBERANCE? Let us know in the comments! REVERBERANCE is now available to watch below on YouTube.