"I don't have to listen to you. You're just a cat."
(The Voices OS’ courtesy of impawards.com.)
"Well, a cat that can talk and reason, that’s a miracle for the ages.”
“But a guy who talks to his cat, well that’s one step away from the loony bin. Find someone else, kill them, and you’ll discover what it feels like to be truly alive.”
Jerry Hickfang (Ryan Reynolds) is the “new guy in Shipping” at Milton Fixture and Faucet International and outwardly, he seems the likeable sort. He lives alone above the shuttered Mellow Lanes bowling alley, and he’s doing “a great job” at work.
The thing is, he’s not taking the meds he’s supposed to be taking, and, as a result, he’s hearing the titular voices, apparently coming from his pets, Mr. Whiskers (the mean and nasty cat), and Bosco (the gruffly positive and supportive dog).
And, as you can probably tell from the above lines of dialogue, Mr. Whiskers starts telling Jerry to do some very dark and morally questionable things…
Marjane Satrapi, whose entry into the feature film world was via co-directing the adaptation of her own graphic novel Persepolis, takes the Black Listed screenplay by Michael R. Perry* and gives us what is, by and large, a very black comedy shot through with some dreadful, horrific moments, and some potent emotional weight.
And that’s all topped off with a pretty gonzo climax which segues into a pretty gonzo (yet oddly moving, given the context) end credits sequence.
Reynolds (who also provides the voices of Mr. Whiskers and Bosco, among others) does an excellent job at portraying a troubled yet sympathetic character who, over the course of the film, does some very dark and terrible things. And he’s backed up by a commendable supporting cast that includes Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, and Jacki Weaver.
Oh, and props go out to Cairo and Hamish, for embodying Mr. Whiskers and Bosco.
As with many a ¡Qué horror! title before it, The Voices is not for everybody, but if you like your horror laced with some strong black comedy (or vice versa), then you should really check it out.
“The medication, it smooths things out, and that’s okay, right? But even though there are bad moments…”
“Very bad moments.”
“Very bad. There are also moments of inspiration and beauty, when all the world makes sense, and the elegant secret mechanics of Man and God are revealed in their many dimensions, and the universe is laid out before mine eyes and it is a blessed place.”
“You totally stopped taking the pills, didn’t you?”
* The Voices took the number 3 slot on the 2009 Black List, a mere two votes behind Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay for The Social Network. (For the uninitiated, the Black List is an annual year-end rundown of the most notable as-yet unproduced screenplays as voted for by a variety of executives in the Hollywood film industry.)