Movie Review: Voices (2021)

If you love ghost flicks like The Others (2001)and The Unborn (2009), to name a few, The Voices just might be right up your alley.

Dead people can contact Lily, the protagonist in Voices (2021), like Cole Sear in The Sixth Sense (1999). However, she does not see them like Cole. Lily hears dead people. One of the many motifs Voices uses in its narration is how losing one sense can remarkably improve other senses. The writers – Daniel Hathcock and Nathaniel Nuon (who is also the director) do a commendable job portraying differently abled people as round and robust characters. Despite being blind Lily is capable of running a private practice as a therapist and is not singularly defined by what she cannot do.

The first scene of the film reminds the viewer of The Collector (2009): We see Lily (Valerie Jane Parker) is strapped to a gurney, her BFF, Emily (Rezeta Veliu), is tied hands up to the ceiling, and there are surgical tools lying about in the room, ready to function as the flesh-flayers they were destined to be. This scene cuts to Lily in her home office, where she is talking with a child who has come for therapy. This session reminds Lily of her childhood. We soon see childhood Lily (Chloe Romanski) and her mother are driving to the cemetery to drop flowers at her dad’s grave. We get a glimpse into what kind of family they had/have. On their way back, there is an accident. Lily loses her mom, along with her eyesight. From that moment, her aunt, Becca (Jordan Ladd), who is unmarried and without kids, takes in Lily, and raises her as her own.

Losing her sight heightens her abilities to hear things in the physical and “other” world. Her aunt chalks it up to having imaginary friends, as children are want to do. This causes her to take Lily to see a therapist. There, Lily hears a dead person calling out to her from a closet in the therapist’s house. Shortly after, the therapist gives a freaked out Lily headphones, and tells her to listen to music whenever she hears the voices. This works for Lily through childhood until adulthood.

As an adult, we see Lily is married to her teenage sweetheart, Will, and they are about to have a baby. This picture perfect life is complicated by the fact that certain ghosts who desire to have one more shot at life are vying for the slot of being Lily’s new baby.

Lily’s character is well-rounded and loveable. It’s so easy to connect to the range of feelings she expresses during the course of the movie. However this focus means the other characters suffer because they are not as well developed as hers. A few of them might as well be props. Considering the story focuses on the paranormal, the writers have a good grasp of things related to discarnate entities (spirits without physical form).

Voices is a well-told poignant story. The use of in medias res gives you the idea of “something to come”. The concept of time is almost nonexistent, as the story effectively uses flashbacks to share Lily’s life with us. We experience her as a child, teenager, and woman coping with the gift (or is it a curse?) of literally hearing hello from the other side.

A lover of good cinematography, I was pleased. It’s not frequent we get to watch a good story with great cinematography. The entire movie did not have the dreary air of sadness and bleakness draped over it that the subject material leans into. I like to think it is symbolic of how Lily’s life has its good and bad moments. David Stone Hamilton’s musical score appropriately aided in conveying the movie’s ambiance, almost like what Abel Korzeniowski did with The Nun. Parker’s acting was superb!

Voices lacks the fast pace of hacker-slasher movies, but it tells it’s story so beautifully, puling you in scene after scene.

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