The Voices (2015)
Reviewed for TheBluFile.com by Dustin Putman(Release Date: April 7, 2015)
Any subject matter can be made funny with the right touch and sensibilities, but it is difficult to buy into the would-be humor of "The Voices," a satire of mental illness, serial murder and talking pets from director Marjane Satrapi (2007's "Persepolis") and screenwriter Michael R. Perry (2010's "Paranormal Activity 2
"). This burnt-black comedy has a bleak, queasy core, but the seriousness of its character study is undermined by a jokey tone that makes light of a lonely diseased mind and the loss of life he perpetrates. Ryan Reynolds (2011's "The Change-Up
") believably conveys a loneliness both empathetic and threatening as Jerry, a blue-collar worker at a fixtures & faucets factory with eyes for British co-worker Fiona (Gemma Arterton). Having recently stopped taking the medication his psychotherapist (Jacki Weaver) prescribed to him, he is inundated by warring voices in his head that speak through his dog and catand, later, the decapitated heads of his victims.
"The Voices" is "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" meets "Clean, Shaven" meets the sorely underrated "Office Killer," an offbeat thriller with a twisted, cloying, at times inappropriate comic bent. The trouble with the film is that it does such an effective job at unsettling the viewer that it consistently disappoints whenever it opts for absurdity over realism. When Jerry invites cute office worker Lisa (the ever-lovely Anna Kendrick) out for a drink and the two of them hit it off, their sweet burgeoning relationship is overshadowed by the knowledge that she is in serious danger. When the other shoe drops, the results are genuinely disturbing and achingly human, which makes the dissatisfying third act and an upbeat song-and-dance number over the closing credits feel not only misguided, but downright insensitive to its characters and their fates. "The Voices" has a lot going for it, but, sadly, its blend of terror and farce strikes a disingenuous chord.
The digitally shot "The Voices" stabs its way onto Blu-ray with a confident 1080p transfer that finds a welcome dimensionality even in its darker moments and a visual vibrancy with its favoring of pink in scenes set at the factory where Jerry works. Back at Jerry's increasingly corpse-riddled apartment, the brown and yellow hues of the color grading and production design permeate with such lifelike clarity one can practically smell the stench of death. Object detail is strong throughout, while black levels are, for the most part, rich and inky. A few shots have a less-refined faded/grayish quality to them, but this is likely a result of the original cinematography. The picture's intricate sound design is what gives the disc's 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio a workout, with the crowded voices in Jerry's mind coming from all directions during the finale's overwhelmingly authentic aural onslaught. A car crash and a few brief flashes of action additionally bring potency to this track, while dialogue is clearly defined in the mix.
- "The Voices: From Fridge to Frame" Featurette (16:54, HD)
- "VFX: The Making of Bosco and Mr. Whiskers" Featurette (6:34, HD)
- "VFX: Comparison Showreel" Featurette (2:55, HD)
- "The Voices of Ryan Reynolds" Featurette (4:31, HD)
- Deleted Scenes (12:10, HD)
- Extended Scenes (4:24, HD)
- Animatics (19:59, HD)
- Cast & Costume Sketch Gallery
"The Voices" is sure to divide audiences. There is a lot to admire about the film and performances from Ryan Reynolds and Anna Kendrick are certainly committed, but the script's creative direction is all over the place and rarely works as the comedy it is striving to be. This dishonesty seals its fate. Lionsgate's Blu-ray release is of a high quality and special features are solid. There will be some viewers who will no doubt take to its winking charcoal tone, but others who will be turned off. "The Voices" is worth a rental for consumers to see which side of the fence they fall on.