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Chris Kavan's Movie Reviews (3227)

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Voices, The (2015) 
Listen Up
3/4 stars

Who would have thought that a film starring Ryan Reynolds as a serial killer could be so disturbing yet so darkly humorous. I was dubious as to whether it could be done, but I was impressed by how a movie featuring a talking dog, cat and various severed heads worked so well.

We meet Jerry (Reynolds) on the job, working in a factory that ships bathtubs. He seems like a mostly well-adjusted, slightly awkward guy. He gets corralled into helping plan the company picnic (for being the "new guy") but we soon find out he may not be a steady as we first think. He's seeing a psychologist (Jacki Weaver) and it's obvious that the only thing keeping him on the straight and narrow is a daily regimen of pills. When he doesn't take his pills his cat, Mr. Whiskers (Reynolds - sporting a Scottish accent) plays his evil side while his dog, Bosco (Reynolds yet again, sporting a Southern drawl) plays the voice of reason. Though he seems to be getting along well enough at work, he becomes fixated on accountant Fiona (Gemma Arterton) while her two co-workers Lisa (Anna Kendrick) and Allison (Ella Smith) also get closer to him.

Let's just say, a run-in with a deer on a dark road leads down a path of murder and mayhem. The film incorporates a great use of visuals - when Jerry is off his drugs, his home is bright, cheery and clean with a very 70s-era vibe. But when others see it (or Jerry starts taking his drugs) we find the truth - a dank, dreary place covered in dog and cat feces, hair and lots and lots of blood. As his cat says - a cold and lonely world indeed. The way they got the animals to "talk" was actually very technical and it works rather well. It doesn't look too fake, and even the talking severed heads is well done.

Make no mistake, this is a very dark film - Jerry comes across as highly disturbed, yet you still feel for the guy. He doesn't seem that evil, yet he has few qualms about killing. It's morally ambiguous, even though you know he's doing these terrible things, you don't want him to die - and that balance is really hard to strike. It's probably one of the better roles Reynolds has given, in my opinion. You have to sell such a role and Reynolds really does a great job as playing this happy-go-lucky kind of socially-awkward guy - but hiding this terrifying side.

The rest of the cast comes across just as well - especially when playing severed head versions of themselves. Granted these versions are still all in Jerry's head, so they are overly cheerful and supporting, It's pretty amazing, actually and kind of fun in a dark way. That's where a lot of the humor comes from.

In the end, The Voices blends dark and light in a kind of ingenious way. It won't be for everyone, but for what it does, it's a fine achievement. Also, the end credit sequence features dancing and singing (with Jesus!) so it's got that going for it as well.


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