Voice of Reason Movie Review
Review written by Milos Jovanovic
Directed by Robert Parent
Written by Robert Parent, Karen Parent and David Lawrence
2007, 94 minutes, Not Rated
Kortney Adams as Tracy
Dennis Lemoine as Todd
Leah Polacco as Stephanie
Kelly Cook as Nurse Clark
David Lawrence as Dr. Morgan
In a secluded hospital somewhere, a young girl named Tracy is being examined by a certain Dr. Morgan, whose presence is only shown through a mechanical eye and a voice. Morgan informs Tracy that she was out in a coma for three months, and that she was admitted with a head injury which was rather serious. Through a series of Q&A sessions, he tries to make her recall the events which led to her hospital admission.
After an initial struggle, Tracy starts patching back her past. She remembers she was on a hiking trip with her close friends Todd and Steph, and that they were exploring an unknown location. Snooping around, they find an abandoned building complex, which they decide to examine as well. Before you know it, they are lost in a network of underground tunnels, and Steph and Todd go missing. Tracy, who never exactly was the bravest of the bunch, is absolutely mortified at this point, and decides to run for it. While running, she notices she is being stalked by a robed, masked figure who sports a giant knife.
Admittingly, the story seems rather farfetched, and Dr. Morgan thinks so as well. In his opinion, she might have inherited some of the schizo gene her father possesses. But what happens once the masked fiend starts appearing again, and mysterious messages start plaguing Tracy at night? Is she really insane?
A nail-biting independent feature by the rookie director Robert Parent, Voice of Reason is a rather accomplished psychological horror thriller which succeeds at every level. What we have here is a well-crafted little chiller, which draws you in from the start and keeps you guessing until the very end, ultimately delivering a satisfying wrap-up.
At the beginning, we are acquainted with Tracy (Kortney Adams in a stunningly good performance), and are trying to see matters through her eyes. The whole first half of the film is dedicated to a prolonged flashback sequence, in which Tracy retells her experiences from the abandoned complex. Most of this part basically works like a conventional horror, with the protagonists stuck in a dark, ill-lit hallway, and there are a few "boo" moments as well. The second half is more of a whirlwind, as Tracy is jolted back and forth between what we (and she) perceive as her sanity going on and off. The more we move towards the climax, the more scary the whole experience becomes. Things become really ominous when the horror moves from flashback to the present — couple that with a set which looks like it was inspired by the institution in Jacob's Ladder, a dark, brooding music score and realistic looking special effects, and you have quite a show on your hands.
Parent, a first-time director as previously noted, shows enough talent to handle such a feature. As I try to underline in every review of an independent film I write, it is much more important to execute simple things efficiently than fail ludicrously at complex set-pieces which end up ruining your film, and this is proven yet again here, as Parent takes the right road, establishing an atmosphere with a number of carefully edited static shots which were previously well-lined up. The technical aspect of the film was also meticulously handled — shot in 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio on digital video, Reason will make you feel you're watching a movie shot on actual film, thanks to good lighting and camera work. It is worth noting that this project was brewing for good six years, and that Parent was the prime mover behind all of it — after all, he is credited as not only the director, but as a co-writer, co-producer, editor, DP and a composer as well!
While Dennis Lemoine and Leah Polacco have their moments playing Todd and Steph, this really is the Kortney Adams show. Adams, who previously appeared as a bit-part in the HBO production Empire Falls, holds the film together by her powerful performance, successfully conveying every necessary emotion her character emits — from confidence, to fear, to utter despair. The moment where Morgan informs her she might not be all sound in the head is a choice moment.
If you liked Jacob's Ladder or Session 9, Voice of Reason might be just the movie for you. Doing effective psychological horror is tough, but Parent pulls all the right strings, and delivers us an impressive debut feature. Put shortly, it's what nightmares are made of.
Audio, video and special features will not be graded as this is a screener.
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