Unpopped Kernels: The Voices (2015)

Oh Ryan Reynolds – there is no denying that he is an excellent actor. In fact, through Van Wilder and Wade Wilson, Reynolds has charged the industry with these sarcastic and droll characters that we love. The problem isn’t Reynolds, it’s the films he had been in; RIPD, Wolverine Origins, and the aforementioned Wilder hasn’t exactly been fantastic cinema. Unfortunately, it has marred the talented actor and seen him fall out of favour with audiences everywhere.

The Voices revolves around Jerry – a lowly factory worker living in industrial town Milton. Kind and enthusiastic, Jerry is an asset to his company and even catches the eye of buxom British beauty Fiona. However, all that vibrantly glitters is not gold and Jerry has many secrets hidden – namely talking to his pet cat and dog who speak back to him. Though his troubles are just beginning, when a chance date with Fiona leads to him killing her, Jerry finds himself torment by different sides of his personality. Especially when the severed head of Fiona springs back to live to convince him to kill again. Will Jerry battle his demons or will he succumb to his subconscious desires by listening to those voices?

The Voices is the sweet natured love child of Filth and American Psycho yet with originality that sets it apart. It revels in the bloody mayhem. Violent, humorous and with a sick streak of pulsating gore, the film relishes on the nastiness alongside an exuberant spirit – never relenting it’s idea. Many will be put off by the extreme portrayal of mental illness (and, indeed, it is troublesome for perpetuating a murderous stereotype of schizophrenia). Yet you are pulled into this warped tale happily because at the core is this problematic yet oddly likeable Jerry, a protagonist who has to suffer the consequences of wanting to see the world a little brighter than the norm. His toiling mind matched against the darkly hilarious narrative is key to The Voices excellence. And through the devil and the angel on Jerry’s shoulder, in the form of deep and soppy voiced dog Buster and Scottish maniac Mr Whiskers, the poignant and utterly depraved elements combine.

The story does begin to ebb at the start of the second half. Different tonal shifts placate the film and the new romantic plot that trickles like the blood from Jerry’s refrigerator. It feels a little forced, enough to take away some of the kinetic energy and gives the film some moments of lag. However, the acting really pulls you through and it is encouraging enough for this to be a minor blip in an otherwise stellar film.

This is a tour de force performance by Reynolds who seems to have gained another dimension of acting in order for Jerry to be engaging. He is a wicked delight to watch as you follow a disturbing but strangely pleasant centric character. Superbly balancing the innocence of the murderer alongside the violent parts, Reynolds is the ultimate component in making The Voices shine with its weird confidence. Resonant and fun, poignant and playful – there seems to be no actor who could gift us with Jerry and subsequently Buster and Mr Whiskers. With a quadrant of ladies such as Jackie Weaver, Gemma Arterton and Anna Kendrick, this is triumphant cast who are adoring every twisted second.

There are conga lines, musical numbers and talking pets making The Voices a riot. Whilst critics throw the term instant cult classic around too much, arguably to get on the poster, The Voices is definitely reaching out to a particular audience that will be appeased by the lavish killings and chaos. Director Marjane Satrapi balances the pained isolation and temperament of this overdone illness but to a great electrifying effect. Enhancing the film with this colourful aesthetic and sublime imagery (that contrasts brilliantly against the bleak filthy reality that Jerry had cocooned himself from) The Voices will definitely find adoring fans that will lap up every scene.

As for Reynolds?

Well, every dog (and cat and talking head) will have its day.

The Voices is available on Amazon Prime Video! 

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