There are too many movies involving a man or woman with mental illness to count. Some films take an in-depth look at the complexities and emotional drawbacks. For the most part though it is the go to way writers use for characters in horror movies. Obviously we live in a world with killers having mental disorders but it seems far too easy of a crutch for filmmakers. Enter The Voices: A comedy/horror that not only shoots for the moon with its mentally ill character but gets bogged down on what kind of film it wants to be.
The title is perfectly apt as the movie follows Jerry (Ryan Reynolds), a man who winds up going on a killing spree all the while getting into arguments with his “talking” pets. It is a role that works well for Reynolds who gives his best performance in ages. Whether it is balancing Jerry’s moods or voicing his pets he actually shows like he gives a damn which is refreshing. Unfortunately his performance can only do so much as this film drags from each scene to its obvious conclusion. The problem comes from the film’s tone which Writer Michael R. Perry does not seem to know what to write.
At least Director Marjane Satrapi has some kind of voice (no pun intended) with this film. This movie can be visually appealing with the color scheme she has chosen with very loud colors like pink and baby blue. Honestly it is Nicolas Winding Refn-lite in how neon it can get but even the horrendous apartment Jerry lives in can look nice. There is even some care when it comes to the little details like on company logos or the endless boxes stacked in Jerry’s apartment. No matter how much Satrapi tries though, the writing is what ultimately kills this movie.
As mentioned earlier, Michael R. Perry does not know what kind of tone to use and it makes the comedy suffer. At the core it tries to be a dark comedy but the comedy that stems from the violence is more jarring than anything else. When the movie wants to showcase the ‘wackiness’ of Jerry’s mental illness it thuds hard. That and Perry tries way too hard making this a weird script by having over the top characters and situations. Again, the movie drags because of all these elements and if it could only cut a solid fifteen minutes out of it something might have been salvaged here.
You know who would have made this concept work? John Waters. Watching this movie you get the feeling that; with the characters, small town setting, and being over top; The Voices is a first draft for a Waters productions. While Director Marjane Satrapi tries her hardest to make this visually interesting, the script by Michael R. Perry bogs everything down with its inconsistency. While it certainly isn’t the worst portrayal of mental illness in a movie this certainly is just another notch in the ‘serial killer’ subgenre of generic horror.