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Dustin Putman

The Voices  (2015)
2 Stars
Directed by Marjane Satrapi.
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Anna Kendrick, Gemma Arterton, Jacki Weaver, Ella Smith, Paul Chahidi, Stanley Townsend, Adi Shankar, Sam Spruell, Valerie Koch, Gulliver McGrath, Paul Brightwell.
2015 – 103 minutes
Rated: Rated R (for bloody violence, and for language including sexual references).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for, April 6, 2015.
Any subject matter can be made funny with the right touch and sensibilities, but it is difficult to buy into the would-be humor of "The Voices," a satire of mental illness, serial murder and talking pets from director Marjane Satrapi (2007's "Persepolis") and screenwriter Michael R. Perry (2010's "Paranormal Activity 2"). This burnt-black comedy has a bleak, queasy core, but the seriousness of its character study is undermined by a jokey tone that makes light of a lonely diseased mind and the loss of life he perpetrates. Ryan Reynolds (2011's "The Change-Up") believably conveys a loneliness both empathetic and threatening as Jerry, a blue-collar worker at a fixtures & faucets factory with eyes for British co-worker Fiona (Gemma Arterton). Having recently stopped taking the medication his psychotherapist (Jacki Weaver) prescribed to him, he is inundated by warring voices in his head that speak through his dog and cat—and, later, the decapitated heads of his victims.

"The Voices" is "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" meets "Clean, Shaven" meets the sorely underrated "Office Killer," an offbeat thriller with a twisted, cloying, at times inappropriate comic bent. The trouble with the film is that it does such an effective job at unsettling the viewer that it consistently disappoints whenever it opts for absurdity over realism. When Jerry invites cute office worker Lisa (the ever-lovely Anna Kendrick) out for a drink and the two of them hit it off, their sweet burgeoning relationship is overshadowed by the knowledge that she is in serious danger. When the other shoe drops, the results are genuinely disturbing and achingly human, which makes the dissatisfying third act and an upbeat song-and-dance number over the closing credits feel not only misguided, but downright insensitive to its characters and their fates. "The Voices" has a lot going for it, but, sadly, its blend of terror and farce strikes a disingenuous chord.
© 2015 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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