The new Screen Gems thriller Impie follows Alice, a hearing-impaired girl who, after a supposed visit from the Virgin Mary, is inexplicably able to hear, speak, and heal the sick. As word spreads and people from near and far flock to witness his miracles, a disgraced journalist hoping to revive his career travels to the small New England town to investigate. When terrifying events start to happen all around, he begins to wonder if these phenomena are the work of the Virgin Mary or something more sinister. Impie is produced by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Evan Spiliotopoulos, written for the screen and directed by Evan Spiliotopoulos, in his directorial debut, and is based on the bestselling James Herbert Tomb.
Much of the thriller of the film is delivered to the audience through their ears. Its spooky soundtrack, edited and mixed at Sony Pictures Post Productions Services by a sound crew led by supervising sound editor Kami Asgar and re-recording mixer Steven Ticknor, serves up a delicious mix of eerie sound effects, disembodied vocals and dark and scary music. (The original music was composed by Joseph Bishara.) âSound is important in all movies, but in a supernatural thriller it is gigantic,â says Spiliotopoulos. “What you hear and what you don’t hear is essential for creating fears.”
One of the sound team’s biggest challenges was creating an auditory presence for the malicious spirit that communicates with the outside world through Alice. (Alice believes she is in contact with the Virgin Mary, but, in fact, it is the essence of a witch, burned at the stake centuries earlier and doomed to vengeance.) Mary’s role is shared by two actresses. Her masked and serpentine presence on screen was interpreted by contortionist Marina Mazepa. Her incarnation as a disembodied voice was provided by voice actress Lorna Larkin.
Both aspects of Mary are reinforced by sound. âFor Marina’s scenes, Kami created sound treatments to match her weird, unnatural body movements, the way she crawls, twists and wheezes,â says Spiliotopoulos. âFor the vocal scenes, he manipulated Lorna’s voice and added effects to make Mary more ghostly and reflect her mood swings. She can speak calmly, but suddenly becomes upset and her demonic side comes out. In an instant, she goes from the sound of a normal human being to something vicious and out of the world.
Asgar said injecting the good supernatural quality into Mary’s voice required special care. “It couldn’t be overly treated or demonized because it had to sound believable,” he observes. âThe sense of evil and wickedness had to come from the performance. Everything we added had to be applied with restraint.
The sound contributes not only to the paranormal aspects of the film, but also to its elements of realism. The sound crew went to great lengths to accurately recreate the soundscapes of the small New England town, the simple wooden plank church where much of the action takes place and more. environments. “Impie is a very, very anchored film, âsays Spiliotopoulos. âIt’s not a fairytale town where strange things happen. It is located in a real town of the 21st century. This realism of time and place makes supernatural intrusions more powerful. “
The redemptions of tension and the fears come more quickly and with increasing force as the story progresses towards its crescendo. The visuals become more sensational and the sound more loaded with evil. âOur job was to strategically use horror sounds to shock and stun audiences on an increasing scale,â says Ticknor. “This movie is full of striking visuals and when accompanied by the right sounds, they get you out of your seat.”
Sound post-production was carried out during the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, much of the collaboration that normally occurs between sound, production, image writing and other departments has had to be done remotely. To overcome this limitation, the sound team used the Sony 360 Virtual Mixing Environment (360 VME), which allowed everyone to listen to mixing sessions through headphones in a way that mimicked the environment. ‘a theatrical dub scene.
Asgar says Sony’s 360 VME was the next best thing to be there. âThe work we do is very collaborative,â he explains. âNormally, the whole team is assembled for the mixing: the sound editors, the mixers, the director and the photo editor. We exchange ideas and try things. In this case, everyone was in a different location and listening on 360 VME headphones, which reproduced the sound of the mixing stage. Everyone could hear exactly what we were playing as if we were sitting in a theater. It was phenomenal!
“It worked very well,” agrees Ticknor. âIt got us the mix most of the time, so when we got to the mixing stage in person, we were able to quickly finish a final mix of the dialogue, effects and music. The team worked very well together.
As a beginning director, Spiliotopoulos was fascinated by the various aspects of sound post-production and how they contributed to its dark and gripping history. âThe whole experience – sound design, effects, Foley, ADR and mixing – was new to me but also rewarding,â he says. âEveryone on the team was accomplished pros and made every step of the process fun. We had a blast. “
Screen Gems’ Impie grossed over $ 26.3 million at the global box office and will be available digitally on May 25, 2021 and on Blu-Ray â¢, DVD and On Demand on June 22, 2021.
Written for the screen and directed by Evan Spiliotopoulos. Based on the book Tomb by James Herbert. Produced by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Evan Spiliotopoulos. The executive producers are Andrea Ajemian and Romel Adam. The film stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Katie Aselton, William Sadler, Cricket Brown, along with Diogo Morgado and Cary Elwes.