The orphanage school of Saint Ange in the French Alps is forced to close in the wake of the death of one of its students. The only people left behind are the cook, a disturbed young woman who has been there since she was a child, and the newly arrived Virginie Ledoyen, who has been hired to clean the place, but is on the run from her own past, trying to conceal an already quite advanced pregnancy. Ledoyen hasn’t been there long when she becomes aware of other presences in the school – “the s…ary children” – and she starts to investigate the school’s dark past.
The case promises “a twist ending that is sure to shock you,” and this threat made me groan: we’ve had far too many twists these days, most of them entirely predictable. Fortunately, House of Voices doesn’t really have a twist. Unfortunately, its narrative is so oblique (ghost stories should be subtle, but this is TOO subtle), that the final revelations are more likely to engender confusion and dissatisfaction in the audience. On the plus side, the atmosphere is properly spooky, and there are a couple of standout scares. Though not entirely successful, this is still a decent companion piece to the likes of The Others and The Devil’s Backbone. Fans of classic Italo-gore will be pleased by the presence of Lucio Fulci fave Catriona MacColl as the school’s director.
I was prepared to be outraged when I discovered that an obviously French film only had an English language track. Surely we have moved beyond dubbed releases. As it turns out, the evidence points to the film having been shot simultaneously in both languages (the deleted scenes are in French, but the actors all seem to be speaking English with their own voices in the feature itself). As the film is generally a very quiet one, there aren’t a lot of surround effects, but when called for, the soundtrack thunders (literally), with storm effects revolving around the room.
The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen picture is first-rate. The blacks are deep, the colours and contrasts are very strong indeed, and there is no noticeable grain or edge enhancement. The image is razor sharp, too.
The 53-minute making-of feature consists of a brief statement from the director and tons of behind-the-scenes footage. There are deleted scenes, and some trailers that play as the disc loads. The menu’s intro and transitions are animated and scored, and the main screen is scored but only partially animated.
As ghost stories go, this isn’t a home run. But it is a solid triple.
Special Features List
- Behind-the-Scenes Feature
- Deleted Scenes