The Voices (review) is a quirky comedy (cliché, I know… but there’s no other way to describe this very original movie!) starring Ryan Reynolds as a serial slayer off his meds and onto some very interesting intel from his pets… his talking pets, that is. We were lucky enough to snag an exclusive interview with the director of this dark gem, Marjane Satrapi (Persopolis), and here’s what she had to say about The Voices.
Dread Central: The screenwriter, Michael R. Perry (who’s worked with some big names including Chris Carter, Dick Wolf, and Sam Raimi), has said in interviews that you stayed really true to his script. We’d love to know how the script came to you and what it was that attracted you most. I mean, there are so many elements – from the talking animals to the murder motif to the exploration of mental illness, etc. What a palette!
Marjane Satrapi: My agent sent me the script, and I read it at night and asked myself, ‘What the hell is this?!’ I couldn’t define the genre of the film – is this a comedy? A horror film? Or a drama? I still cannot give you a definition. It’s a genre-bending film. The day after I woke up asking myself why I had so much empathy and sympathy for a serial killer. It was a big challenge to make a serial killer a likable person on screen. And then I was in love with the cat. Each sentence that came out of its mouth made me laugh.
DC: Ryan Reynolds has done horror before (I first met him in an interview situation when he was promoting the Amityville Horror remake), but that was earlier in his career. (Not sure if R.I.P.D. counts as “horror”.) So, what do you think convinced him to do this relatively small film? Also, what did you like about him as actor, and what did he uniquely bring to the role of Jerry?
MS: Ryan Reynolds was in love with the script. The producer called me and told me he wanted to play Jerry. We met in NYC, and at the moment I saw him in person, I knew it was him. He was Jerry. He can have something scary in his dark, deep eyes, and at the same time he has this juvenile smile that makes you forgive him everything. He looks at the same time as a little boy and as a serial killer. We had the same vision of the film. He appeared to be fantastic in the role.
DC: Why are cats always seen as evil and dogs as dopey do-gooders in movies? Do you agree with those stereotypes?
MJ: I have a cat, and I don’t think cats are evil. Cats are smart, witty, and they have huge self-esteem. A cat will never do what you ask him to do unless he really wants it himself. And here comes the difficulty of shooting with a cat: You say ‘sit’ to a dog, and it sits. Say that to a cat, and he’ll give you a ‘fuck you’ look.
DC: The severed heads singing kind of reminded me of Eight Heads in a Duffle Bag… was that a direct nod or just a coincidence? Did the scenes of the heads turn out visually, exactly as you “saw” them in Perry’s script?
MS: I’m unfamiliar with that film, but I’ll definitely watch it now. It’s always a work of adaptation, but since Michael Perry is happy with this, I think my vision and his vision worked out very fine together. And to finish, to have the severed heads in the fridge, the actresses actually physically sat inside the fridge.
DC: We are a horror site. So naturally, we’d like to know more about the scares and gruesome bits in The Voices. Do you like horror? What are some of your favorite horror movies? And who would you say (based on its festival run) is the ideal audience for The Voices?
MS: I am very scared of horror films. Still, I watched lots of them until the age 13; then I overdosed. My favorite was The Exorcist, but Candyman was the one that scared me the most. I couldn’t watch myself in the mirror and say ‘Candyman’ three times, too scared that he’d come. As for my film, The Voices, I think it will obviously please the younger audience, but I have seen much older people loving it.
You’ll find the film on VOD platforms and in select theatres TODAY via Lionsgate.
Directed by Marjane Satrapi, the psychological thriller also stars Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, and Jacki Weaver.
This genre-bending tale centers around Jerry Hickfang (Ryan Reynolds), a lovable but disturbed factory worker who yearns for attention from a woman in accounting. When their relationship takes a sudden, murderous turn, Jerry’s evil talking cat and benevolent talking dog lead him down a fantastical path where he ultimately finds salvation.