The Voices

In DVD/Blu-ray by Alex Moss Editor

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.

The Voices

In Films by Sammy Hall

Marjane Satrapi – known primarily for critically acclaimed animated coming-of-age drama Persepolis (2007) – has clearly taken a bold u-turn with her first foray into the landscape of English-language film. Playing like the cinematic love-child of Dr. Doolittle (1998) and Psycho (1960), this film will struggle to bore but likely confound. Set in whimsical, small-town America – arguably the perfect setting for a rom-com slasher – Ryan Reynolds leads as loner Jerry who seeks companionship and counsel from his pet cat and dog. Whilst starting his new job at a bathtub manufacturing factory, he befriends the majority of the female contingent in Accounting and things slowly start to go downhill from there.

Satrapi’s direction, combined with Maxime Alexandre‘s iconic cinematography and long-time collaborator Stephane Roche‘s slick editing, ensure you are swept along this manic and bloody fantasy. Anna Kendrick provides levity and warmth as vulnerable and charming Lisa, balancing Gemma Arteton‘s femme fatale Fiona perfectly. The same can be said for Jacki Weaver‘s restrained court-appointed psychiatrist.

While it’s fair to say all the supporting cast have their moments, this is Reynolds’ show. His skillfully offbeat charisma, side-splitting comedic timing and heart-breaking humility spurs the feature effortlessly and elevates it beyond its idiosyncrasies (and we haven’t even discussed his pitch-perfect animal personalities). This seems like a conscious progression for our leading man, and from the evidence on display, one can only hope he continues in this trend.

Warped and hilarious, in a deeply dark way, this manages to move and entertain in surprisingly equal measure. The laughs continue to amuse as the narrative takes increasingly dark turns. This rarely feels misguided or exhaustive, but its inability to categorize itself unfortunately frustrates. Additionally, screenwriter Michael R. Perry fails to leave a lasting impression by robbing the audience of a worthwhile conclusion.

The Voices incapability to develop beyond its premise, leaves you feeling slightly underwhelmed. But whether you leave the cinema fulfilled or bemused, The Voices flies by at an intoxicatingly propulsive rate. A joy ride that may not stay with you for long, but entertains all the same. Highly recommended for the fringe black comedy fan.