13th Apr2021

‘The Voices’ VOD Review

by Chris Thomas

Stars: Ashley Bell, Jordan Ladd, Leslie Easterbrook, Valerie Jane Parker, Jenna Harvey, Chloe Romanski, Chris DeBlasio, Rezeta Veliu, Romy Reiner, Jonathan Stoddard, Lauri Hendler, Tracy Lawrence | Written by Nathaniel Nuon, Daniel Hathcock | Directed by Nathaniel Nuon

A little boy once said “I see dead people”. In The Voices we have a little girl who can hear dead people. For better or for worse, this film is very much in the M. Night vein.

The Voices kicks off with two ladies restrained in a Saw-esque torture-basement before moving back in time to a little girl, seemingly receiving therapy from a young lady wearing sunglasses (while indoors). I am not a therapist, but I would imagine hiding your eyes from your patient is probably the last thing you would want to do (after telling them to “stop moaning”, I suppose). Having said all that, it turns out our therapist is blind, so that told me. We then have a rather confusing flashback after a flashback. If you have read my reviews previously, you know I think jumping timelines twice in quick succession is one of the worst storytelling mistakes.

Lilly is our tragic little girl, and eventually she grows up to become a therapist. Living in an opulent mansion. At the beginning of the film we are told that Lilly’s Dad has passed away. Before we know what is happening, Lilly has lost her eyesight in a car accident and her mum is also gone.

Lilly is having a rough time of it. But honestly, the flashing between Lilly as a little girl and Lillian, the adult is confusing. We also get Lilly, the teenager.

Suddenly, Lilly hears the titular voices, and the new therapist explains this is a coping mechanism for her to recover from her traumatic experiences. She has a chat with “Alison” in the bathroom, who is quite possibly a malevolent ghost. Lilly is told by her therapist, when she hears scary voices, she should put headphones on to drown out the voices.

Most scenes involve two characters (one of which might or might not be a ghost). There is a lot of dialogue that rarely moves the plot along or gives us a lot of useful information. A little girl, who might be a ghost, is looking for a cat. A slightly sinister lady might be trying to abduct another little girl. One of Lillian’s patients suddenly starts telling her that her son is dead but he can live on in Lillian. It is, at times, confusing and stressful.

Part of the problem with the film is it has so much of an ethereal quality, the characters don’t feel grounded in reality. The jumping around, seemingly random characters talking about their tragedies further confuses things. I think the film does have a coherent point, but in trying to buff up the mystery, it makes matters far less clear than they should be. A simple little ghost story shouldn’t be this impenetrable.

The film has a daytime TV quality, despite being a horror film, generally caused by the melodramatic soundtrack and lighting. Some of the camera shots are actually very nice, but the shots jump around so much that the film doesn’t take full advantage of them. We also occasionally get narration by Lilly, but it is odd, this only pops up now and then. This is a key issue of the film, it doesn’t feel like the whole thing was made by the same director. Different scenes in the different timelines feel markedly different, and not in a Forest Gump kind of a way, but in a “three random films, stitched together” kind of a way.

Having said all that, there is decent stuff here, it is just lost in the scenes that don’t work. I enjoyed the “Lilly, the teenage years” scenes the most. Lilly and her friends, letting her drive a car around a car park is good fun, and gives a real sense of teenage freedom, despite their arrest and Auntie Becca being suitably cross.

I am most interested in the character of Lilly, and what her life looks like, and this doesn’t mesh at all with the horror elements that occasionally rub themselves into our faces. We also get Diana, the irritating spiritual mystic, who wants to bring her baby back from death. The horror effects are extremely well done, but I wish they had ditched all that, for a simple story about Lilly, growing up with a tragedy. I could do without kidnappings and ghosts.

Having said all that, there is one very effective creepy scene involving a bed. The horror stuff is well done, it is just a weird pick and mix of a film.

An hour and forty-five minutes of three seemingly different films, meandering ghosts, and dead people, and shoes later and the film ends. There is a lot of emphasis on babies, people wanting to snatch kids, ghosts that say they have lost their baby. As Lilly says, “this is hard to believe” but despite it all, there is something here. The ending is good, and it ties The Voices together in a surprisingly satisfying way.

The Voices is out now on VOD from Vertical Entertainment.


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