So onto my thoughts…
Welcome Scribbler horror fans! Do you like dark or “black” comedies? Then you’re in luck today as The Scribblers both caught a new modern cult classic in the making. Shhh, do you hear…
The Sundance Film festival premiered The Voices (January 19th 2014) to rave reviews from many critics but it wasn't until February of the next year that it found a wider public audience through a Lions Gate distribution deal finding DVD release and a VOD platform garnering an impressive Rotten Tomatoes critic rating of 72%.
So onto my thoughts…
Jerry works in shipping for a bathtub manufacturing plant in Milton. To any casual passerby he appears more than happy, pleasant and fun to be around. However, Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) hides a secret… he converses with his pets. One is a snarky, no consequence pondering, cat and the other is a realistic though seemingly dim witted dog which isn't that unusual or even unheard of but in this instance he is certain that they answer him back. This intriguing situation is largely due in part to Jerry's decision not to take his court appointed meds, a choice that his psychiatrist (played by Jackie Weaver) frowns upon when he 'fesses up' after a little badgering.
After he gets appointed to assist with party planning duties Jerry finds himself falling ass over tit for a coworker and his mood soars to never before reached heights. Fiona (Gemma Atherton) is brunette, British, delicious and flirtatious (what else could you possibly ask for?) though doesn't sadly reciprocate the same feelings Jerry has for her. This situation pleases Mr. Whiskers (the cat voiced by Ryan Reynolds, who also voices Bosco the dog and a suffering Deer) immensely leading him to taunt Jerry with a single line that forever changes the rest of the movie's pace... “that bitch. Have you fucked her?”
Following a chain of events in which Jerry gets stood up by Fiona at a Chinese restaurant, (boasting checkered tablecloths and an Asian pelvis thrusting Elvis impersonator) and Fiona finds herself in the pouring rain beside her vintage mustang that refuses to start, they find themselves side by side in the same vehicle. Everything goes swimmingly until a deer decides to pop in unannounced and Jerry decides to answer a trivia question he had only recently asked (rather strange though ironically fitting if you've followed the back story) at the most inopportune moment possible with his arm saturated in forest critter claret and holding a knife. Jerry is left puzzled when Fiona runs away screaming whereupon he tries his damnedest to calm down his hysterical companion. He succeeds partly though only makes matters worse when he stumbles “forgetting” he still has a blade in his grip, the same one used to lacerate the unfortunate Bambi's jugular. As is often the case with situations such as this Jerry soon finds himself in quite the precarious position, though being the resourceful lad that he is he isn't at a lack of ideas with which to incorporate to help his rapidly worsening situation.
Deciding on what he considers the best, ignoring the sage advice of a salivating canine preferring instead the wisdom of a four legged creature who gleefully chooses to clean it's anus with its tongue, he plows ahead with gusto making the most of a seemingly unending supply of Tupperware (only making me ponder on when mine might actually become useful) as the pets look on, strangely silent and very intrigued. In the same scene reminiscent of both Re-animator and Delamorte, Delamorte (aka Cemetery Man) Jerry considers the many uses of a refrigerator. Taking a moment to thank the gods that his doesn't yield more shelves than is considered prudent he adds to the contents another item. This grisly object humbles Mr Whiskers in the peer pressure department, excels at manipulation and uses passive aggressiveness with such ease that the audience would swear they were instead watching a Department of Motor Vehicles management visual training tool. Jerry is now hellbent to sate his innermost urges and deviant desires, albeit 'Prompted' by his subconscious companions, but not before he spirals into a brief spell of indecision that reveals his previously thought 'rose colored' surroundings to be not quite so cheerful after all and his friends to be not quite as supportive and empathetic as he once believed them to be.
In my attempts to keep this review as spoiler free as I'm able I've kept this rather vague. The Voices is deserved of such treatment as very early on it had me enrapt and smirking like a goon (vintage British comedic team reference there it seems only fair as I referenced an American institution of nightmarish proportions earlier). The humor is very effective (and very dark just the way I like it) although the premise in part reminded me of a micro budget feature entitled Lucky (released over a decade previous) it still managed to hold my attention throughout never once making me think it was a direct parody of the aforementioned feature. Ryan Reynolds portrays a disturbed individual very convincingly (screw the haters I'm a fan of many of his previous works and can't wait for his upcoming portrayal of Deadpool) adding just the right amount of emotion to make the audience feel for his plight whilst also finding it hard not to laugh at his predicament.
Jerry's love interests, Fiona (Gemma Atherton) and Lisa (Anna Kendrick) are intriguing characters also and adequately portray the many stereotypes one might find within a small town work environment. Without a doubt and on a personal level, besides the fact that The Voices played beautiful homage in part to several cult and iconic horror features, it was Mr Whiskers who stole the show. His no filter dialogue and devil-may-care attitude had me smiling like a lunatic at every scene he was in and I'm glad that the filmmakers opted to go 'tits out' aiming for an R rating instead of what could have easily been (with a few cuts, and a little less blood) a hard PG 13 and for that I am extremely grateful.
I have a single qualm, however, with the eyebrow raising finale, the end credits sequence, but then when you consider that the movie revolved around a person who needed, but refused to take, his medication you must learn to accept another hiccup of reality accordingly no matter how puzzling it may seem. Bravo and kudos to Mr Reynolds for pulling off a demanding voice talent checklist that could well have been disastrous ruining the movie but instead developed into a factor that made the movie memorable, unique and something destined to be enjoyed for years to come. Seek out this black humor treat accessible everywhere a stout box with a decidedly crimson color and slot to slide your credit card is located. - Cult
I also managed to catch this feature the other night and I can’t help but add a few of my own thoughts to what Cult has already said. The Voices is honestly one of the best dark comedies I’ve seen in years. The portrayal of a small town with only one real place of employment for its citizens is pretty spot on while written in a way that kept it out of cheesy territory. I grew up in a small town and this movie isn’t far off the mark though it has an extra touch of 1950s America naiveté. Ryan Reynolds is fantastic as Jerry never once breaking character the entire film right up to the bitter end. Yes, as Cult acknowledged there are some Reynolds detractors out there based on some recent flops but I’d argue Reynolds himself has never really been bad in a flick though some of the films he’s decided to do are a little suspect *cough R.I.P.D. cough* If you doubt his acting abilities at all look no further than this film or Buried which is also fantastic.
If you haven’t checked out The Voices yet you should do so as soon as possible. You’ll laugh then feel guilty about doing so. I couldn’t help be reminded of another dark comedy favorite that you should check out if you can find it, one of the first (it may have been the first) “Quentin Tarratino Presents:” features called Curdled about a crime scene cleaner who becomes obsessed with a serial killer. I can’t but think The Voices director, Marjane Satrapi, had to have seen that film or at least I hope so. I can’t really say enough good things about The Voices that even though it does so in a comedic way does an excellent job of showing the altered perception of reality that people with schizophrenia deal with on a daily basis and the very real issue of why some stop taking their medication. Jerry struggles with taking his meds as he knows he is supposed to and the consequences of taking them as well. This is a serious issue that the film I think actually deals with very well despite the overall comedic tone. That part may go over the head of most but it’s more realistic than most would realize. Sorry for that downer but just wanted to point out that while The Voices is a seriously funny dark comedy it also manages to address real issues of mental health without beating you over the head with it so kudos to writer Michael R Perry for that. An excellent film that will make you laugh and if you want to, think as well. The Voices is highly entertaining so The Scribblers must dub it…
What do you think of this excellent film Scribbler fans? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Scribbler Movie Reviews
Feind loves watching movies of all kinds so if we watch it, we tell whether you should as well. I'll share mostly horror but I also enjoy everything from big Blockbusters to micro-budget Independent films.
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