If you ever wondered what happens when a schizophrenic with serial killer capabilities stops taking their medication, see "The Voices." This is a bizarre, yet amusing perspective on the unraveling of a young man's mental state. Director, Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis) and screenwriter, Michael R. Perry mix the perfect ingredients of shock factor, gore and vulnerable performances to create what could be a memorable cult movie. This dark comedy is not for everyone, but it is well done.
Ryan Reynolds takes on a new voice (no pun intended) and character path portraying Jerry, a disturbed and naive man who works at a bathtub manufacturing company in Nowhere, America. It is clear that he has been scarred since childhood. Something is definitely 'off' upstairs. While everything about Jerry's life appears "Office Space" bland, nothing is dull about the fact that he speaks to his 'talking' cat and dog. Jerry is almost childlike, asking girl advice and chatting away with his vulgar Irish tabby cat, Mr. Whiskers and good natured dog, Bosco. These are not miracle animals with the gift of speech. No, they are the voices inside Jerry's head.
At first, the film appears to be an outlandish comedy, but there is certainly the doom of horror lurking in between the lines. Jerry pursues his crush with Fiona (Gemma Arterton) in accounting, but she is sure there is something odd about him. After standing up Jerry for a dinner date, they coincidentally cross paths later that evening. A large knife, a chase through the woods and one accident later; Jerry is a changed man. With no meds and a passion for killing, the voices in his head and the bodies of his pets make Jerry question whether this is his fate. To kill or not to kill? That is the question.
One would think it can be difficult to sympathize with a serial killer, but Ryan Reynold's performance makes it so easy. This is a far cry from the actor's usual fluff roles as the pretty boy protagonist. He altered the tone of his voice and embodied the personality of a deranged monster. Screenwriter, Michael R. Perry, who crafted episodes of "Stephen King's Dead Zone" and "Paranormal Activity 2" has a knack for horror and suspense. Reynold's unpredictable character and loose screws are enough to make any audience squirm in their seats. At times, you don't know whether to stare in shock or cover your eyes. Anna Kendrick does a fine job as the shy girl admirer of Jerry. Playing a less complex character than she normally portrays, Kendrick is always refreshing to watch on screen.
It's nice to see a woman filmmaker such as Marjane Satrapi tackle and succeed in the gore genre. If "The Voices" receives the proper distribution, it could be a game changer for both Reynolds and Satrapi.
By Pamela Price
Director: Marjane Satrapi
Screenwriter: Michael R. Perry
Producers: Matthew Rhodes, Adi Shankar, Roy Lee, Spencer Silna
Cinematographer: Maxime Alexandre
Production Designer: Udo Kramer
Editor: Stephane Roche
Costume Designer: Bettina Helmi
Principal Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, Jacki Weaver