If you have read Inquisitr‘s recent coverage then you know that before Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij created The OA, they made two independent films together. Of those two movies, the first, Sound of My Voice, might prove to be the most potentially illuminating for viewers of the Netflix thriller. For a detailed description of Sound of My Voice, you can read IMDB’s profile on the film here.
The first feature-length collaboration between Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling was the 2011 mystery flick. Of all of Batmanglij and Marling’s collaborations, Sound of My Voice bears the most striking resemblance to The OA. Below are eight parallels between the 2011 movie and The OA.
Warning: Spoilers for the plot of Sound of My Voice and The OA are ahead.
Parallel #1: Story Telling
In Sound of My Voice, Marling plays a cult leader who claims to be a time-traveler from the future. In The OA, Prairie tells “the five” of an exotic backstory where she is the daughter of a Russian oligarch, who survives a near-death experience that results in her blindness.
Throughout Sound of My Voice, Marling’s Maggie holds court with a group of loyal devotees, all of whom long to hear about her life in the future. Like Prairie in The OA, Maggie tells fantastical stories about her past, albeit with the occasional plot hole. As Maggie’s influence grows stronger, she begins asking her followers to do things for her. Likewise, Prairie prepares “the five” to travel to another dimension.
Parallel #2: Body Language
In Sound of My Voice, people must prove their ability to enter Maggie’s presence by performing an intricate handshake without error. In The OA, members of “the five” must perfectly perform an equally elaborate dance sequence to enter another dimension.
Parallel #3: Careful Recruiting
In Sound of My Voice, Maggie tells her followers that she has come to the “past” (their present) to select a group of people she will task with a special mission. In The OA, Prairie tells Steve (Patrick Gibson) that she needs his help to recruit five people with a certain set of attributes, all of them positive ones that give those who join Prairie’s circle an immediate sense of self-worth and validation. Like those in Sound of My Voice, the five people in The OA have a mission too.
Parallel #4: Costume Change
Towards the end of The OA Season 1, Prairie pulls the hood of her sweater over her head. Throughout Sound of My Voice, Maggie systematically pulls a covering over her head.
Parallel #5: Mysterious Physical Ailment
In The OA, Prairie was blinded as a child due to a car accident. In Sound of My Voice, Maggie suffers from an undisclosed illness, which causes her to occasionally require the assistance of an oxygen tank.
Parallel #6: Teacher’s Pet
In Sound of My Voice, one of the aspiring documentarians who work to ingratiate themselves into Maggie’s cult is a kindergarten teacher. In The OA, one of the five recruits for Prairie’s mission is high school teacher, Betty Broderick-Allen (Phyllis Smith).
Parallel #6: Mission Implausible
Like The OA, there is ample room for interpretation in Sound of My Voice. As skepticism gives way to belief, the characters in Sound of My Voice finally learn their purpose – to reunite Maggie with a little girl she claims is her biological mother. The authorities have another explanation. They claim Maggie is a fugitive and the girl is her daughter, who Maggie lost custody of due to her being a criminal.
According to them, Maggie has set up a cult to convince someone to abscond with her daughter, so they can be reunited. One of the central characters, who had been a skeptic trying to expose Maggie when the movie begins, turns out to be the little girl’s kindergarten teacher, hence the motivation to recruit him into the cult, since he has access to the girl.
In The OA, Prairie claims that she needs “the five” to perfectly perform the five elements so they can rescue those who were being held captive by Hap. At first glance, the dance is a harmless task for “the five” to manage. What if the dance, like Maggie’s handshake, is only the beginning, though? An undertaking “the five” must accomplish to prove they believe in Prairie’s story enough to do something else, something more precarious.
Parallel #8: Open to Interpretation
When Maggie and the girl meet towards the conclusion of Sound of My Voice, they perform the cult’s secret handshake perfectly, without saying anything to each other. The scene can be interpreted two ways. Maggie is either from the future and her mother taught her this secret handshake so they could find each other in the past. Or Maggie invented the handshake so that when her daughter was separated from her and she was later reunited with her, the girl would instinctively know she could trust her since Maggie also knew the handshake.
As is the case with The OA, much is left open for viewers to decipher and put their own spin on in Sound of My Voice. Given the strong parallels between The OA and Sound of My Voice, it is feasible The OA could follow in the ending footsteps of Sound of My Voice.
In Sound of My Voice, there is no clear-cut resolution as to whether Maggie is lying or not. It is left up to the viewer to decide.
By the end of The OA, viewers are left with a similar storm of questions, as doubts are sewn into the narrative in the final episode of Season 1. A cache of books hints that Prairie’s story is a figment of her imagination as the “the five” are not transported to another dimension after they perform the five elements. As is the case in Sound of My Voice, viewers must try to make sense of a baffling sequence of events.
Will this be the way The OA is left? Open to interpretation? Netflix has yet to announce Season 2, so only time and a renewal might provide clarity. Season 1 of The OA is currently streaming on Netflix. For more clues about The OA and its ending on Inquisitr, click here.
[Featured Image by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]