Tip if you’re planning on watching The Voices: you cannot have a weak stomach. The dark comedy is helmed by Ryan Reynolds as Jerry, a mentally-ill man who develops a predilection for murder at the urging of his talking pets, Boscoe and Mr. Whiskers.
It’s billed as a horror-comedy but is unfortunately light on the comedy. The most comic and underused devices are the morally opposed pets, also voiced by Reynolds. Beyond that the gore is laid on thick and fast, which unfortunately serves to lessen its impact.
Stylistically The Voices alternates between brilliant and patchy moments; not especially surprising as this is the first big project that director Marjane Satrapi has handled. A particularly genius moment is a shot of a woman’s legs kicking absent mindedly against a counter – until you realise that the twitching is actually being caused by Jerry on the other side with a hacksaw as he dismembers his victim. However shots such as these are let down with the off-kilter avenues the film sometimes wanders down.
Reynolds’ performance is the stand out of the film; it’s nice to see him being able to stretch his acting skills beyond rom-coms and terrible superhero films. He is somehow both sympathetic and disconcerting as Jerry, a fine line that is essential for his characterisation: we are seeing out of Jerry’s eyes into his delusions. Reynolds does a great job of eliciting unwilling empathy, despite Jerry’s crimes.
Gemma Arterton and Anna Kendrick as the supporting cast are good, but not given enough material to really make an impact. This leads to unmemorable performances that, despite their best efforts, mean their characters may as well have been called Potential Murder Victim #1 and #2.
All this isn’t to say that The Voices isn’t worth watching; at the very least it’s a fresh take on an under-represented genre, though not quite living up to the standards of the epitome of the comic slasher flick, Scream.