Jerry tries to fit in and date his co-workers, but his talking pets screw with his mind and every goes pear-shaped.
The Voices is a little-known movie from 2014 that largely escaped people’s attention. I suspect that the marketing division had some difficulty nailing down the essence of the thing and finding a target audience, because it is an odd one. In summary you could say that it is a comedy with black humor, but both the funny and darker parts are a bit unusual.
Ryan Reynolds plays Jerry, a charming yet goofy and naïve factory worker in a small industrial town. The movie displays daily life in town like some sort of fisher-price environment, in which Jerry is packing sugary pink boxes and his co-workers are mostly caricatures. Then we learn that Jerry is a schizophrenic who struggles to fit in, and his cat tells him to flush his medication. The more he listens to the voices of his pets, the more gruesome accidents happen.
It is a rather simple setup for a horror-comedy in which evil talking pets push someone to commit murders, but the movie takes a smarter turn by painting Jerry as a struggling guy who wants to be good, but listens to his pets out of loneliness and psychological problems.
The sense of humor in this movie rests on a theme of innocence versus disturbance. The world of the office and the pink boxes look simple and childish and innocent. The pets too are innocent. They don’t know what’s going on, they just sit there and let Jerry talk for them. Jerry himself is innocent too in some way; especially in his pink overall. He’s just a struggling little kid inside who wants to be a good boy, but who’s brain has some disturbing coping mechanisms.
It is the clash between this innocent boyish play-world and the realization that some pretty disturbing things are happening that makes you giggle in awkwardness and discomfort. The shifts in tone are quite abrupt and sometimes you just don’t really know how to feel about it. A scene may start out funny, then becomes uncomfortable, and ends up being silly. If you like movies with a clear message or a constant tone that tells how exactly what to feel, this one may throw you off.
Still, the black comedy mix is a bit clunky. At times I felt like the murder and comedy elements didn’t really mesh well, as if the movie couldn’t make up its mind. I think it would have worked better if either the comedy was more present and the blood toned down, or the comedy subdued and the tension dialed up.
I guess you could say that the movie itself is just as schizophrenic as the main character. I would still recommend it simply because it is quite an experience.