House of Voices is a supernatural thriller written and directed by Pascal Laugier.
The story is set in the French Alps during the late 1950s. The opening scene shows a rather basic looking children’s dormitory in the St Ange orphanage. It’s night and a storm is raging. One of the young boys wakes up. He’s been sleeping under the covers and has his torch under there with him, so he switches it on and heads for the toilet.
On his way to what is one of the most depressing looking toilet facilities imaginable, the boy walks past the girl’s dormitory where a young girl calls to him: “Alex! . . . . I need to go . . . . Can I come with you?”
The two children arrive at the toilets safely, but Alex has a problem with some of the taps and his companion blames “the scary children”, who apparently like to play with the plumbing. Within a matter of minutes, Alex has met with an unfortunate and fatal accident. The scene ends with the young girl’s scream competing against the noise of the ongoing storm outside.
In the next scene, as the credits roll, a rather somber-looking Lady waits at a bus stop. A young lady gets off the bus and the two women walk in silence through the woods to St Ange.
The somber Lady is in charge of running St Ange and her companion, whose name is Anna, has been employed as the new cleaner. Alex’s death has been the last of a spate of unfortunate accidents at the orphanage and the children are being removed that very day. Before leaving, the young girl who was with Alex on the night of his death rushes to Anna and whispers in her ear that she must beware of the scary children.
Within no time at all of the children have gone, along with most of the staff. Only two people remain to keep Anna company: Judith—a rather strange and backward young lady who has been raised at St Ange—and Helenka, the cook. Plus the spirits of the scary children, of course.
Soon Anna is busy with her duties and while Helenka gets on with hers Judith (who also looks a little scary by the way) amuses herself with a gramophone (“I’m in the Mood for Love”) and takes her medication like a good little girl whenever Helenka presses the pills into her palm.
Strange things are happening at St Ange though. The old place seems to hold many secrets and Anna is sure Helenka knows more than she lets on.
I can’t say that I was overly impressed with House of Voices. It’s a little slow-moving. I also found it difficult to keep track of the story. The setting works okay—the St Ange orphanage is quite a spooky-looking place.
The main problem with the movie is the script. It isn’t that good. The actors try their best to make it work, but there is only so much they can do. No matter how much flogging a dead horse gets, it will remain just as dead. House of Voices was a great disappointment to me, from beginning to end, and the way the movie ends is just plain stupid. If you decide to watch House of Voices, you will find that out for yourself, but there are better ways to kill time.
So, what’s a better option than House of Voices? Try The Orphanage (2007). It’s a Spanish horror movie that knocks spots of House of Voices in every way.