The Voices is a comedy horror about a serial killer. It’s not a sub-genre we see very often but, thanks in no small part to the likes of American Psycho and TV’s Dexter, it is one that allows a macabre but often darkly funny look into the mind of a murderer. As such The Voices may speak to many but it doesn’t always communicate in the ways it sets out to.
Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is a smiley, happy, get along with his work colleagues, kind of guy. He’s got a bit of crush on Fiona (Gemma Arterton) in accounting and seems to be drawing heart-shaped eyes from Lisa (Anna Kendrick). But Jerry has a secret; he hears voices. Specifically emanating from his evil cat Mr. Whiskers and his loveable dog Bosco. His therapist Dr. Warren (Jacki Weaver) is worried about Jerry and insists he stays on his medication. But when a date with Fiona goes horribly wrong Jerry soon finds himself hearing more voices and in increasingly hot water.
From the Oscar Nominated co-director of animated film Persepolis Marjane Satrapi there is an undeniable cartoonish charm to The Voices. Everything is painted in vibrant colours, as if Tim Burton had chosen to make Edward Scissorhands a wide-eyed killer. Satrapi plays with this idea to highlight how Jerry sees the world, once on his medication though he sees it through similar eyes to the rest of us and all the mold and blood that occupies his life come rushing to the fore.
Early on there is something endearing about the film, the way it conjures a slap-stick, larger than life sense of tone. You half expect people to burst in to song, and they do for the closing credits, and when it’s playful it’s a thoroughly enjoyable experience. But the issues arise because it doesn’t make enough of the central concept; that Jerry, as a personality, is essentially innocent, horribly manipulated by the other “personalities” in his head. But rather than focus on this the film gets distracted by the more romantic elements and as such feels often confused. It is frustrating as a few tweaks to the pacing of the film would have made all the difference, allowing the more interesting idea of Jerry and Lisa’s relationship to become the crux of the narrative while Jerry battles with his inner demons.
Reynolds is typically rubber faced as Jerry, while as an actor he’s had his fair share of dud films there’s no denying the man has an endearing screen presence. His vocal talents alone are impressive given the vindictive Scottish tone he gives Mr. Whiskas and the innocent, Southern drawl he gives Bosco. Arterton gives a nice turn as the bitchy Fiona, who becomes endlessly more likable as a festering talking head in Jerry’s fridge, while Kendrick is always as cute as a button.
A great concept almost worth shouting about The Voices is a lot of fun but doesn’t always have the clarity of tone you would hope for.