Voices in the head: grisly but not witty
THE VOICES (NC16)
Black comedy/104 minutes/Opens today
Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is a disturbed man working in the shipping department of a plumbing supplies company. He suffers from delusions in which his pets and stuffed toys seem to speak to him, and sees Dr Warren (Jacki Weaver), a therapist, for this. Their suggestions are often dark in nature. He admires his co-workers, Fiona (Gemma Arterton) and Lisa (Anna Kendrick), but is afraid to grow close to them.
IS JERRY, who works in the shipping department of a small-town bathtub factory and is played by Ryan Reynolds, a quirky misfit or something more dangerous?
This question hovers for a little while over The Voices but resolves itself even before Jerry starts filling his refrigerator with severed heads of women.
Reynolds, all but pleading with the audience to grant the possibility of scary depths behind his bland good looks, cackles and cries and says strange things about angels. He also converses with his pets, who talk back - the cat in a menacing Scottish burr and the dog in a genial drawl.
Grisly but not especially suspenseful, tongue-in-cheek without any real wit, The Voices aims to hit the intersection of horror and comedy, but tumbles into an uncanny valley of tedious creepiness.
The bright colours and the fanciful, exaggerated Middle American setting are about as fresh as thrift-shop cast-offs. The story (Michael R. Perry wrote the screenplay) is too far-fetched to be disturbing and too banal to work as fantasy.
So you are left to wonder how Reynolds ended up here, and to feel a pang of horror and bafflement when Gemma Arterton and Anna Kendrick show up to feed Jerry's romantic prospects and his serial-killer tendencies. The wonderful Jacki Weaver plays Jerry's shrink.
But by far the weirdest (and perhaps the most disturbing) thing about The Voices is that it was directed by Marjane Satrapi, who wrote the graphic-novel memoir Persepolis and later adapted it for the screen. Whatever she was trying to do with these talking animals and decapitated corpses, let's hope she got it out of her system.
NEW YORK TIMES