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Friday, May 15, 2020

Review: The Voices

Director: Bradley Fowler and Wesley Alley
Screenplay: Bradley Fowler
Year: 2020

Horror movies where elements of mental health are combined with paranormal elements are usually the ones that intrigue me the most, which leads me to be a little biased when I watch and review them. This bias makes me be harsher than normal with them and this is because I understand the great potential they have to be frightening just by the nature of its topic, one of the most recent examples being what for me was the disastrous “The Turning”. “The Voices” is the most recent independent proposal that explores mental health alongside supernatural horror. 

After suffering a painful breakup, a young woman seeks refuge in an isolated cabin where her sister lives. Her sister suffers from mild schizophrenia and paranoia, which makes it more difficult for her to adapt. After a few days in the cabin with her sister, the young woman starts to present similar symptoms, which becomes hard to differentiate if they are caused by the same disease or if they have a supernatural source. 

The intention of establishing mental health as the center of the plot is evident since early in the script of Bradley Fowler (“Love Meet Hope”) who also codirects the movie with Wesley Alley (“The Girl With The Bangs”). Throughout its full runtime, they are able to keep you guessing for the cause for the strange events that take place in the cabin between the sisters, but no matter the cause, the mental health part is never abandoned. A good deal of the credit for making this possible goes to the great job of the protagonists Amanda Markowitz (“Patchwork”) and Victoria Matlock (“Love Meet Hope”) who make their characters, emotions, and reactions credible although in some parts their acting might seem a bit rough around the edges.

The atmosphere is one of the best-crafted elements and one that is responsible for maintaining the tension together with some exciting camera tricks that are used to emphasize certain moments and essential actions in how the plot unfolds. The attention to detail that comes off Fowler’s smart script and that transfers to the visuals impressively draws the map to leave no loose ends. In this way, the viewer is guided through every sequence to later surprise him with an unexpected twist that throws off-board any conclusion that the viewer might have come to, but everything makes perfect sense. 

It is precisely in this twist where it can win or lose the viewer and I was one of those that did not enjoy the twist. It’s worth pointing out that the twist is indeed unexpected and makes sense with the rest of the things that happen, by looking for something so drastic I think it hurts its chances of exploring other ideas inside the horror frame that seemed more appropriate. Also, the sudden and inconclusive ending, although far from the complete failure that was “The Turning”, it also leaves a bad flavor after witnessing a script that goes above and beyond to explain every detail. 

“The Voices” explores mental health issues and explores how two sisters are slowly being consumed by the disease in a slow-burn plot. The way in which the script and most of the movie is done is excellent, but in its efforts to look for an unexpected twist that although is explained inside the frame of the events that take place inside the isolated cabin, it deflates the chances it has for exploring something terrifying. The atmosphere and the acting play together to keep up a tension that I expected that it would be used to create more terror but misses the mark.

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