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Pretty Bad62.5%
Total Crap: 31.25%

1 review, 10 user ratings

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House of Voices
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by U.J. Lessing

"…because ‘Orphanage of the Quiet’ didn’t sound spooky enough."
2 stars

For the American release of the French film, Saint Ange, the title was changes to House of Voices, an inane choice when you consider that the film takes place in an old orphanage, not a house, and that the supernatural elements tend not to talk. Changing the title from a foreign-sounding name to a William Castle-style moniker reveals the studio’s attempts to hide, at all costs, that this is a foreign film.

The House of Voices is indeed a French film that was shot in both French and English simultaneously to create a version for non-subtitle-reading viewers. The film follows a young cleaning woman, Anna (Virginie Ledoyen) in her new position at an old orphanage in the Alps. When she arrives, the children are departing after a serious accident, and the orphanage has been left empty save for one emotionally disturbed older orphan, Judith (Lou Doillon) and co-cleaner, Helenka. (Dorothy Lazar)

Anna begins to sense that there may be other presences in the orphanage, and begins to uncover hints of a tragedy that occurred there. However, Anna, herself, isn’t in the most stable state of mind, and still suffers the physical and emotional scars from her previous employer, who raped her, beat her and left her pregnant.

Anna’s need to heal herself and protect the children (seen and unseen around her) leads her to become more and more obsessed. The question is how much of what she sees is real and how much is in her own mind.

Director Pascal Laugier does a competent job of raising some tension, but his screenplay is too diffuse and sloppy to be captivating. This is Laugier’s first feature film (he was discovered by Christophe Gans after Gans was impressed with his ‘Making of’ films for The Brotherhood of the Wolf.), and he’s so busy trying to unnerve the audience that he doesn’t develop the relationships or the logic of what is happening nearly enough.

Characters stumble from place to place, and revelations seem more convoluted than intriguing. Papers are discovered. Hidden areas are located. Toys are found. Kittens are discovered drowned. Yet none of it ever really fits together or even makes a lot of sense, even when the final revelation is made.

The ending is just as confusing as the body of the film, and is inexcusably cruel to the heroine. Virginie Ledoyen is a talented actress who contributes a tremendous amount of likeability and skill in making her character multifaceted, which makes the ending all the more repugnant and unnecessary.

A shallow screenplay, unneeded cruelty, and gratuitous scenes exposes House of Voices as derivative of films like Suspiria and The Others, but not a film that deserves to join their ranks.

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originally posted: 10/24/05 01:37:34
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User Comments

11/15/13 Kate Uh... zero story. Whatsoever. Confusing and boring. 1 stars
8/18/12 Lisa price They had an awesome set and the beginning of a scary story but they never get around tellin 1 stars
7/24/12 Debra I found it confusing yet riveting, Anna was a likable character, Judith looked too much lik 2 stars
7/24/12 Debra I found it confusing yet riveting, Anna was a likable character, Judith looked too much lik 2 stars
4/10/08 Daston IT was a waste of time really! So confusing to end as NOTHING! 1 stars
3/18/07 Skull I need medical help!! This movie creeped me out. But it was awesome!! i want a part 2 pleas 5 stars
11/02/06 Rosie what is the point in making a film that deosnt even make sense and whats with the ending th 2 stars
5/07/06 Kimmy This was the worst movie ever!!! (Along with Ghost Lake and Clifford) 1 stars
12/26/05 Bill Creepy but predictable. Annoyed me. 2 stars
11/20/05 garabas Ridiculous, no story, no plot, bad acting, poor directing 1 stars
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  18-Oct-2005 (R)
  DVD: 18-Oct-2005



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