Horror comedy is a tough genre to pull off. It requires that you to both produce scares and laughs to truly pull it off and for every Evil Dead 2 there is a whole host of shit that we don’t want to remember. Stepping into that difficult arena is The Voices, directed by Marjane Satrapi whose previous film Persepolis, it’s fair to say, is a very different beast from this one.
Set around Ryan Reynolds’ Jerry, an affable young chap who also happens to be very very ill, the films explores his descent into a world of hallucinations and insanity as he decides to leave his drugs behind. We slowly learn about his past through a series of flashbacks while he lives in a world where he receives advice on what to do next from his evil cat and good-natured dog. Sadly, this advice leads to him going on a killing spree and keeping the heads of his victims, several of his female coworkers from his day job at a bathroom factory, in his flats fridge.
It’s a pretty simple premise, despite its ridiculous nature and it should give pretty of moments for humour. Jerry’s world is ridiculous and yet it is never actually that funny. The only real laugh out loud moments come from his cat, something which might have been accentuated by the ridiculous Scottish accent and the fact that I was watching it in a cinema in Edinburgh. A lot of it falls flat and while I don’t think I am the person to do so, I do think there are questions to be raised about its depiction of mental health problems. Jerry is clearly ill and while I don’t think the film ever mocks that, it occasionally feels like the film doesn’t know how to handle the issue. Is a serious look at mental health or is it just a backdrop to the wider story.
On the other side of the coin, the film is also not scary enough. Several scenes of violence aside, which drew gasps from at least one sensitive person in my particular screening, the film doesn’t manage to build a big enough level of tension to ever work as a horror. Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of the film coming in knows that Jerry is going to kill and even who he is going to kill, it’s all over the posters and trailers, so there is no tension from that and while the world he lives in definitely has some horrific moments, it’s never portrayed in such a way to make it truly scary.
You also have to wonder what was in this for Jerry’s murder victims. Portrayed by Anna Kendrick and Gemma Arterton, there roles are as thin as you can get. One is there to make googly eyes at Jerry the other is there for him to make googly eyes at and even when they become heads living in his fridge their role in the film is minimal. Considering the talent of the two actresses involved, it is a shame that they aren’t given more of a chance to shine on the screen.
The Voices is alright, but it is never anything more than that. It’s essentially a vechille for Ryan Reynolds and he does a decent enough job at occupying that role. However, it just never goes far enough. It’s never funny enough and it’s never scary enough and your left with a film that just sits in the middle of everything existing. If there is absolutely nothing else in your cinema and you want to waste a couple of hours then it will work, however don’t expect to have your mind blown. In saying that, the ending dance/song number is one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen in a cinema this year and if the rest of the film had existed in that world, I might have got along with it a bit more.