The dark comedy/horror film The Voices gives Ryan Reynolds the opportunity to play a sociopathic killer who’s a likable enough dude when he’s not slicing and dicing up women. The strange and twisted tale also provides Reynolds with the chance to deliver one of his best performances in years.
Directed by Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis), The Voices focuses on Jerry Hickfang (Reynolds), a vulnerable and socially awkward factory worker who longs for love. Unfortunately for Jerry’s female co-workers, underneath his sweet and innocent demeanor lurks a seriously disturbed individual. Unbeknownst to his fellow factory workers, Jerry is not only mentally unstable but also a budding serial killer.
When he’s not at work or in therapy sessions with his psychiatrist (Jacki Weaver), he’s home with his two roommates who battle over what Jerry should be doing with his life. Bosco believes all Jerry needs is a good walk to work off his anxieties while Mr. Whiskers thinks no one will ever really accept Jerry and so his best bet is just to kill over and over again. And while Jerry doesn’t want to listen to either roommate, he can’t block out their voices and asking them to stop talking doesn’t work, either. Why? Because Mr. Whiskers is a cat with a Scottish accent and Bosco is a slow-talking dog with a smooth Southern drawl, and those voices telling him what to do are all in his head.
The scenes at home with Jerry hanging out with Bosco and Mr. Whiskers (both voiced by Reynolds) discussing life, relationships, and listening to the dog and cat – good and evil in animal forms – take opposite sides of every issue feature some of the film’s best lines. Reynolds is such a charming guy that even as his character’s tenuous grip on sanity slips away, you can’t help but root for Jerry to somehow get away with butchering his co-workers.
Gemma Arterton and Anna Kendrick play two of the woman at the factory who catch Jerry’s eye. Arterton plays the office hottie, a flirty single lady who knows the effect she has on men and on Jerry in particular. Kendrick plays Jerry’s down-to-earth co-worker who has real feelings for the man and who could quite possibly keep him from killing, if only she wouldn’t ask so many questions.
Jerry’s decision not to take his medication provides plenty of opportunities for The Voices to alter reality and show the world as Jerry fantasies it to be. To show the contrast between reality and Jerry’s twisted take on his surroundings, director Satrapi switches back and forth between the world as it truly exists and the world as Jerry believes it to be, the difference most obviously demonstrated in shots of Jerry’s filthy, cramped apartment (reality) and the apartment’s larger, tidier, and more bachelor pad-esque look of Jerry’s imagination. The depth of his illness is also vividly displayed when the severed heads in his refrigerator carry on lengthy – and sometimes flirty – conversations with the man who separated them from their bodies.
The Voices is a trippy horror film that shifts tones often and is as twisted as its lead character. Reynolds holds it all together with a fine performance, showing vulnerability, awkwardness, and a descent into madness that makes The Voices fascinating to watch.
Rating: R for bloody violence, and for language including sexual references
Running time: 103 minutes
Release date: February 6, 2015
-By Rebecca Murray
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