THE VOICES: 3 ½ STARS. “shocking right through to the end.”
Jerry Hickfang is an animal over and like many animal lovers he talks to his pets, his dog Bosco and cat, Mr. Whiskers. Trouble is, they talk back.
Ryan Reynolds is the wholesome looking Jerry, a worker at the Milton Bathtub Factory. He’s young, good-looking and eager to please at work. He also has a crush on Fiona (Gemma Arterton), the cute accountant in the office upstairs. They make a date, she stands him up and soon we learn that Jerry has some serious mental problems and an aversion to taking his meds. More likely to listen to the ramblings of Bosco and Mr. Whiskers than his therapist (Jacki Weaver), the bodies start to pile up as Jerry grapples with the voices that tell him to do terrible things.
Kitschy, strange and decidedly off kilter, “The Voices” takes a one joke premise—a guy’s pets are the angel and devil perched on his shoulder—and wrings it dry. There are some funny moments—witness Bosco and Mr. Whiskers getting turned-on while watching a National Geographic (emphasis on the “graphic”) animal special on TV—but mostly the movie revolves around Reynolds’s winning performance.
He’s a likeable actor using his likeability to emphasize the darkness that is slowly enveloping Jerry. It’s a good, brave performance that is the bridge between the horror and comedy elements of the story.
In many ways “The Voices” defines quirky indie cinema, but when the color palette changes from Day-Glo pink in the early scenes to dark colours—both physiologically and physically—in the later scenes, the movie deepens. It’s still shocking right through to the end, but the shudders are tempered with insightful comments on the human condition, and surprisingly, a dance number.