In every horror movie, established or not, there has to be some assumption as to why a slasher is on their spree. Traumatic childhoods, supernatural influences, mental instability. Sometimes, there are films that try to turn the mirror on this, creating empathetic murders who seem like a machine unable to stop, like Romero’s classic Martin, but sometimes the mirror’s reflection doesn’t manage to broaden the perspective at all. 2012’s Maniac put the audience in the killer’s eyes, though mostly as a device to make stalking and executions even more uncomfortable, Rob Zombie’s Halloween remakes went to groanable lengths to expand on Michael Myers’ origins, only to end up in the exact same place.
Marjane Satrapi, creator of Persepolis, has now brought us The Voices, which feels simultaneously like the most cynical ,cotton candy variation of them all.
Ryan Reynolds plays Jerry, an energetic and earnest employee who works at a plumbing company, struggling at home with his mental illnesses. Neglecting his medication, his intense schizophrenia manifests in his two house pets, who he talks to like they’re sidecar-characters from a Disney musical. After he accidentally murders a co-worker, he finds himself enjoying this new chapter of his life even more, his murder count becoming more playful friends to keep him company at home.
There’s a paradigm shift that the movie reveals a little too early, and if there’s something about the production design that feels off at an early point, it’s exactly where you’re supposed to be. However, by bookmarking Jerry’s mental illness the film seems to position itself in a pretty uncomfortable spot, not stating if there’s any empathy to be found in such a monster, but giving you an entry point. It’s an unsettling angle. The Voices feels like it’s stuck in a loop, not introducing much to offset a killing spree, and not giving the audience anything but a walking, smiling nightmare. (Zack Kotzer)
Friday, September 12th, 6:00pm, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema