The Voices has to count as one of those movies that sort of snuck by without much fanfare. I'm pretty sure that this movie never had a formal theatrical release here in the Philippines given the subject matter and the overall tone for the movie. Plus it's just one of those movies that really slip by you if you're not paying attention.
And as much as I was expecting a quirky black comedy given the movie's premise, I was not at all prepared for the final result, which was more like a rather vivid depiction of mental illness or something. This is just not just a funny movie with talking animals.
Synopsis: The Voices is a 2014 psychological horror black comedy movie directed by Marjane Satrapi. The screenplay was written by Michael R. Perry and it premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is a socially awkward guy who works at a local bathtub company and maintains a small apartment with his dog Bosco and his cat Mr. Whiskers above a bowling alley. Unfortunately he is also dealing with significant trauma from his past, although he refuses to take his medication. And thus he has rather significant hallucinations including heaving voices that he attributes to his dog and his cat.
Things start to take an interesting turn when he meets Fiona (Gemma Arterton) at a company event. Even though Fiona was only being polite t him, Jerry takes the whole experience as a sign that the two of them could be together. She eventually stands him up for a possible first date only to be rescued from the rain and car trouble by Jerry later that same evening. An accidental (and literal) run-in with a dear ends up with Jerry accidentally killing Fiona in a freak accident. But now her severed head has joined the conversation with Bosco and Fiona as things progress further and further down a very weird path.
I already expected a black comedy and we ended up with something else entirely. And as much as the movie had its certainly comical moments, there were still even more scenes that were something else entirely. And this is part of the brilliance of the movie.
What was most distinctly notable was the fact that the movie had a pretty creative way of interpreting Jerry's view of the world versus, well, reality. This was went beyond just depicting how things were like while he was on the drugs versus when kept his system clear of them. There were other subtle moments of showing what he sees versus showing what everyone else (including as) actually see whether in a clearing in the woods or within Jerry's bowling alley apartment.
The animals themselves play a rather significant role in the movie, and kudos to the handlers for making sure their physical depiction in the movie generally matched the dialog. As much as they could have gone the full CGI route including having them actually have moving lips, instead we had rather subtle movement and the occasional bit where they look into directly into the camera as they share what they have to say. Plus they're self-aware characters that know they are projections from Jerry's mind and also remind him of this fact time and time again.
Beyond the dark comedy moments, the whole movie feels like a rather creative and yet still with significant, meaningful impact. At times Jerry's situation feels quite painful to watch as we in the audience know how wrong things are and yet he doesn't, for he has retreated deeply into the character's psychosis. You can't help but feel a little bad for him - he ends up doing a lot of things that we would typically be able to interpret as being bad or unwise but he can't see that. Instead he continues to make bad decisions and thus the movie continues down its inevitable spiral.
So The Voices turned out to be a bit more serious than expected without losing the sort of dark comedy that the trailer had promised us. It has it's fun moments and has a rather brilliant cast and it's the story of movie that has you thinking a bit more than most once you get to the end. Thus the movie rates 4 rather vindictive suggestions from Mr. Whiskers out of a possible 5.