Film Review: The Voices (2014)

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Welcome to the wonderfully kitsch world of Jerry (Ryan Reynolds). Working in baby pink overalls, packaging bathtubs in a friendly factory with a host of likably kooky colleagues Jerry’s world resembles a slightly grotty Wes Anderson creation. The quiet town of Milton swims in 50s Americana hues as we follow Jerry on his daily life, to his court appointed psychiatrists meetings, dates with the “accounting chicks” and home to his abrasive cat Mr Whiskers and his doleful buddy Bosco the dog. The magic realism that arrives with the voices of Mr Whiskers and Bosco seems strangely unproblematic in the nostalgic and slightly ethereal setting of Milton.

As the extent of Jerry’s own mental health issues and troubled past comes to light, the kooky talking animals take on a more sinister tone as we begin to understand the full extent of his psychosis. Ignoring the pleas of Dr Warren, played by the brilliantly concerned Jacki Weaver, Jerry continues to skip his medication, choosing to live in the airbrushed world he has created for himself.

The Voices cleverly plays with the audiences expectations, presented with the nostalgic all-American setting we choose to accept and live the fiction along with Jerry, accepting the conceit as it is presented to us. It is only once Jerry, consumed by his guilt about ‘inadvertent’ murder of Fiona (Gemma Arterton), starts taking his medication that the veneer drops and the audience is allowed to see the truth behind the unmediated glow of Jerry’s life. Gone are the soft pastels and mid-century furniture, replaced with overflowing bin bags, animal faeces and Tupperware filled with human remains.

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Faced with the revelation that we have been living in the delusion of our unreliable protagonist, The Voices does well to tread the difficult line of dark comedy. Reynolds’ brilliantly naïve portrayal of a man ruled by his angel dog and devil cat is pitched perfectly. He is able to maintain Jerry’s affable innocence, even while he chats to the growing collection of heads in his fridge. The violence with which Jerry dismembers his victims is almost comical in and of itself, while the liberal application of gore retains the power to wrinkle the most desensitised of noses.

With a stellar supporting cast The Voices had the potential to over play its hand. With the likes of Anna Kendrick (Lisa), Gemma Arterton (Fiona) and Jacki Weaver (Dr Warren) there is always the potential to overuse famous faces, but the generous scattering of stars is used wisely. While Reynolds steals the show with his faultlessly innocent performance, Arterton completely hits the mark with her mixture of aloof flirtation and vaguely inappropriate post mortem perkiness.

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The Voices has a lot to owe to Sightseers (2012), Ben Wheatley’s thoroughly underrated tale of a murderous caravan trip across Britain. Where similarly offbeat characters murder their way through the plot, with a distinctive lack of empathy fuelling the dark murderous comedy. Here, Michael Perry’s script capitalises on Jerry’s a childlike understanding of his own actions combined with a complete lack of sympathy for his victims – creating a character who is both compelling to watch and impossible to save.

Under Marjane Satrapi’s direction, and through the use of comic book framing, The Voices effortlessly combines the comically hyperbolic and the dark reality of mental illness in a twisted mixture that will leave you both disgusted and thoroughly entertained.

UK release date: 20th March 2015

Film Review: Byzantium Dir. Neil Jordan

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Neil Jordan extracts the gothic from the mundane as he returns to the genre that made his name nearly 10 years ago, in new Vampire thriller Byzantium.  Set in the sleepy seaside town of Newhaven, Byzantium sees Clara (Gemma Arterton) and Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) fleeing the mysterious brethren, a sinister group of male vampires who refuse to accept the existence of females in their midst.

In a refreshing shake up to the genre Clara and Eleanor seem to lack the all consuming desire for blood which defines their predecessors, and instead of fangs these modern vampires kill through the use of a extendable ‘claw’ on their thumb. These changes are a welcome reboot to what has become an almost cheesy genre; it is a vampire film so we can’t escape the spectre of Twilight. Gone are the Mormon values, replaced with good old-fashioned seductive vampires who use their sex appeal to lure and kill.

To read my full review visit TQS magazine or Click Here

To see the trailer follow this link.

Evil Dead Trailer Released

With remakes you have to be very careful treading the line between honouring the original and bringing something new to the mix. With Evil Dead the simple upgrading for the special effects should be enough to do it.

While Sam Raimi’s original certainly has cult status, it no longer has the ability to really frighten. From the looks of the trailer Fede Alvarez, the new director, has kept the bizarre aspects of the original while updating the ‘horror’. A good move; the ‘Cabin in the Woods’ story has been done so many times since the original  that to try and reinvent the genre would have been a mistake. Hopefully what we’ll find is a loving homage to the original with a few frights thrown in.

The artwork for the poster is brilliant with a fresh, understated feel. An interesting new way to intrigue the horror loving audience.

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Evil Dead is released in the UK on 19th April 2013.