Synopsis on the movie’s official site: A young woman wakes up in an institution, disoriented, with no idea of who she is or how she came to be there. As she undergoes a psychological evaluation she begins to put the missing pieces of her life together, all the while becoming more and more unglued, until she discovers the shocking truth.
Director Robert Parent (also founder of New World Artists – NewWorldArtists.com) contacted me to view a screening of his film, “Voice of Reason”, in Massachusetts. I would’ve been delighted to attend and visit a friend in New Hampshire along the way but, sadly, out-of-state (Pennsylvania) travel is near impossible for me. So, I settled for second best – a DVD screener. I will accept any and all screeners sent to me, so no problems there. I accepted his offer to mail the DVD before I even viewed the trailer. This is how I find it best to review movies – cold turkey, with as little info about it as possible. I did view the trailer after I popped the DVD in. It looked very good, with great acting.
After viewing “Voice of Reason”, it wasn’t as great as I expected but it still was very well done. My biggest problem was the ending. It just felt unoriginal to me. I’ve seen this type of “dream within a dream” type of “surprise” ending done many, many times. This isn’t to say that it’s a reason to totally avoid it; just that I’d of preferred a more original concept.
As the official site’s “Log Line” says, Tracy Young wakes up in a hospital with no idea of who she is or how she got there. As soon as she awakens, she walks around and the hospital appears mostly empty except for a nurse. Suddenly, from a camera/speaker on the wall, a male voice is emitted claiming to be her doctor. He explains that she has been there for three months and has awakened for the first time since she’s been a patient there. He has her undergo a psychological evaluation in an effort to assess the extent of her mental health and for her to remember herself, her past and the accident that got her there. During the process, she pieces the events involved which led up to her accident, only to discover that it wasn’t true. So, for the remainder of the film she goes over everything a few times. While questioning her sanity, she is also adding to her feelings that she is insane.
The story is partly similar to that of The Darkroom (2006) which shows an escaped mental patient (a John Doe) who has no recollection of his identity or past. He’s given an experimental drug to induce memories of his past because, as a teen, he was found on the side of the road covered in blood.
This is a very basic storyline which allows us to focus on just one character, Tracy. It’s a very character-driven story and Kortney Adams, who plays Tracy, has her task cut out for her since the movie relies almost solely on her as she’s the actress with about 99 percent of the screen time. Kortney gives a superb performance, one which, when viewed, will most likely lead to a long and bright future in acting. She shows the perfect about of emotion and she journeys from slightly confused and hazy to distraught to totally losing it. It felt real to me with her facial expressions, body language and voice nuances and volume. She’s definitely makes this movie infinitely better than it would have otherwise have been with another actress. Being a low-budget film, great actresses and actors are almost impossible to find. Not since Elliott Jordan as Brian Usher in The Toybox (2005) have I seen such a good performance in a low budget horror/thriller/psychological film. Great job casting Kortney, Robert!
Aside from Kortney, there really isn’t much of a cast to speak of. There’s Dennis Lemoine & Leah Polacco, who play Tracy’s friends, Todd & Stephanie. They do an adequate job, Leah slightly weaker, but their screen time is very short. The other actress whom we see a bit more of than as just a background character, is Kelly Cook who plays Nurse Clark; again a very small part done adequately. The other character, who is portrayed as just the intercom voice throughout the film, is, I believe, Doctor Morgan played by David Lawrence. While just a voice with no screen time, his role is second in importance to Tracy. He has a great voice (I like to call it a movie trailer voice) and he pronounces his words well and with some differentiation so as not to sound cardboardish, monotone and static like most low-budget actors’ voices seem to sound. It a good cast for a low budget film.
It’s shot at the Dever Rehabilitation Center (Paul A. Dever State School) in Taunton, Massachusetts. Robert describes the building’s unusual history:
“One of its buildings was used as a speakeasy in the 1920’s. In the late 1930’s & 40’s the grounds were expanded into Fort Myles Standish. During WWII the fort was a transfer station for approximately 1.5 million American, British and Australian troops, and was also used as a prisoner of war camp, which detained Italian and German POW’s. The site was renamed the Dever Rehabilitation Center sometime around the late 1950’s, and was used to house people with disabilities until about the late 1970’s. As public policy changed over the years the facility and grounds were slowly taken off line until only the administration building remained operative for managing new rehabilitation centers around the state.
An added bonus to this location was that many of the buildings were connected by a series of underground tunnels…in which it would not be difficult to convey the sense of uneasiness and horror that these tunnels evoked.
Ironically, shortly after all the principal photography work was completed, the site was closed to the public.”
The camerawork is very good for the most part. The dark scenes in the tunnels are a bit too dark. I’m not sure if my monitor is set too dark but the light shots are crystal clear so I’m thinking the shots are too dark.
The SFX are okay, a bit cheesy at times, such is to be expected. There’s just a minute amount of blood shown so no worries to the squeamish. I can detect some minor animation effects but it’s hard to tell, nothing over the top. The floating person in a black cloak and white mask was a bit creepy and cheesy at the same time. There are a few dead people (zombies?) who don’t look too bad.
I think the music is well done and well placed. It usually is a bit moody and dark and it just creates a great atmosphere for the movie.
The ending bugs me a little. I’m still unsure what exactly happened to Tracy, her accident. We’re not really shown the details, unless I somehow missed it. The very ending is both cool and displeasing to me. Part of me liked it; part of me wanted a “real” ending. But it wasn’t too disappointing. The use of Alice in Wonderland is very suitable, in a darker way.
This isn’t the most original story and the ending is cliché but it’s still worth the time to go and see. Kortney is definitely at the top of my list for reasons to see “Voice of Reason”. While not really horror per se, the psychological aspect is slightly horrific to me. Horror fans might like this film. I’d of given this a 4/5 but the ending brought it to a 3/5 and Kortney brings it up to a 3.5/5.
A good start, Rob!
Kortney Adams … Tracy Young
Dennis Lemoine … Todd Lincoln
Leah Polacco … Stephanie Brooks
Kelly Cook … Nurse Clark
Karen Paren … Hospital Worker
Karen Parent … Mysterious Figure
David Lawrence … Doctor Morgan
Phil Wilgus … EMT/Ambulance Driver
Chris Carleton … EMT
David Lawrence … Orderly
Sam Hagar … Orderly
Leah Polacco … LPN
Nana Okita … Mysterious Figure