The Belgian movie “Noise” by Steffen Geypens is a dark psychological thriller that explores generational trauma that parents pass on to their children. It features young parents Mattias and Liv, who come to live in Mattias’s parental home with their infant son Julius, and things go fine until Mattias starts reacting a little too harshly to his son’s only way of communicating at that age through tears. What follows is Mattias’s descent into a maddening situation where he starts seeing things and becomes immensely sensitive to noise, and it seems Liv will have to run away with her baby, leaving behind the crazed Mattias. The movie is definitely very confusing, so here are the explanations to some of the major questions Geypens’ “Noise” raised.
Who Was Michelle?
“Noise” begins with a woman walking towards a lake as a man chases after her, shouting her name. The first time we saw the older Pol, he was walking by the edges of the lake in front of the house where his Instagram influencer son Mattias and his girlfriend lived, together with their son Julius. Later, Mattias’s father, Pol, mentions a woman named Michelle and how he used to walk with her through the woods. For the rest of the movie’s duration, Michelle isn’t brought up, and it’s only when Mattias’s girlfriend Liv visits Pol wearing Mattias’s mother’s dress that Pol calls her Michelle and kisses her on the cheek. Liv keeps trying to talk sense into Pol, but the dementia-addled patient sees Michelle in his son’s girlfriend, and it’s only then that we realize the mystery behind Mattias’s mother. As Pol begins saying he should’ve tried saving her first, Liv skims through a family album of a young Pol and Michelle with an infant Mattias in her arms when a medical report slips out from the pages. Michelle was Mattias’s mother, who died while he was still an infant, something he mentions in the movie. The report says that Michelle was diagnosed with severe paranoia, insomnia, and post-partum depression, and the worst of it all was that her disease was hereditary. This quickly helps explain the rest of the plot of the movie, as we shall soon see.
From Pol’s account, it becomes clear that Michelle had walked into the lake in front of their house with infant Mattias in her arms as Pol rushed behind her to stop her. Michelle descended into the water, and Pol jumped after her; after placing Mattias on the ground, he went back in to find his wife. But by then, Michelle must’ve sunk to the deepest portion of the lake, to be never recovered again. This created a rift between Pol and his son from Mattias’s very childhood because Pol regretted his decision to save his son over his wife and wished for Michelle. However, by the end, he probably lets go of his pent-up anger against his son when he extends a stick to help rescue him from a fate similar to this one Mattias had been subjected to as an infant.
Why Did Mattias Keep Hearing Noises?
What began as the usual need to attend to their infant son Julius every time he cried quickly became a severely painful situation that made Mattias almost rip his own hair out in frustration. Mattias was constantly irritated by the screeching cries of Julius, which slowly got more and more frustrating as the days passed. He became even more sensitive to any kind of noise, from the sounds of the freezer running to the buzzing of bees, which made him frustrated. The slightest noise jolted Mattias awake, and the sounds of Julius’s crying started sounding head-splitting for him, and at times, with the way he charged at Julius, it seemed Mattias might hurl the baby into the lake.
The reason Mattias became hypersensitive to noise was that the mental issues of his mother—especially the hereditary post-partum depression—had manifested itself in him after his son was born. Mattias started showing signs of every issue that his mother had, including paranoia and insomnia, which is why he started hearing noises. The paranoia made him hear noises even when there were none or made even the mildest ones seem terrifying. His insomnia kept him up night after night, which resulted in him having hallucinations. Mattias saw the floor in his basement heaving, like something from down below wanted to come to the surface, and yet another time, he thought he saw a ghost standing next to his son’s cradle. Having spent a year without sleep, Trevor Reznik started hallucinating in “The Machinist,” where he built an entire fantasy world for himself, and a similar thing began happening to Mattias. Lack of sleep caused him to have hallucinations, which made him think he saw things that weren’t there, while the paranoia made him feel there were noises everywhere. However, the major reason his issues kick-started was the birth of his son, much like his mother Michelle, as he had inherited the post-partum depression from her, and it continued in him decades after his mother’s death. Unless Mattias takes Julius to therapy along with him, the little kid might grow up to have the same disease as his father and grandmother because of its hereditary nature.
Was Mattias Cured In The End?
Steffen Geypens purposefully leaves the ending of “Noise” ambiguous so that the audience has the freedom to come up with their own theories, but the burning question at the end of the movie remains if Mattias’s issues were cured or not. While mental issues – especially ones that are so serious – can’t be treated without years of therapy and medication, we saw a little improvement in Mattias by the time the movie ended. From hating his son’s cries and calling him a whining monster, the Instagram influencer holds Julius’s hand when his mother brings him in front of the lake, which has now been filled. The lake was the one where his mother drowned after taking him down with her when he was an infant, which is why it triggered an unknown emotion in him every time he looked at the water body. It also made his father, Pol, uneasy when he saw it because even in his demented mind, he could remember faint glimpses of the lake being associated with one of the most traumatic memories of his life. Therefore, by filling the lake with earth and making grass grow in it, it was ensured that the water body would not be a threat anymore, especially now that Julius would learn to walk. While we can’t say for sure if Mattias would ever again show the traits his mother had passed down to him, it’s certain that he’s better adjusted to the situation and learning to live with his issues a lot better than he was in the beginning.
“Noise” is a 2023 Belgian mystery thriller film directed by Steffen Geypens.