Audiences are in for quite a surprise when they see The Voices. The new horror-comedy stars Ryan Reynolds as a mentally ill man whose cat and dog tell him things, and who starts committing a series of gruesome murders. But it’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s sad, and it’s absolutely nothing like what we’ve come to expect from writer/director Marjane Satrapi.
The award-winning Iranian filmmaker and comic book creator Marjane Satrapi burst onto the American scene with Persepolis, a frank and autobiographical account of growing up in Iran and coming of age in Europe. That Oscar-nominated film bears very few similarities to the disturbing horror found in The Voices, so I was particularly eager to get Satrapi on the phone to discuss how the transition from slice of life animation to slice of victim live-action horror came about.
CraveOnline: I really, really love this movie.
Marjane Satrapi: Oh, thank you so much! I’m so happy to hear that.
It made me happy to say it. I had no idea what to expect with this.
[Laughs.] Me neither!
“I love a dash of blood. I love Robert Rodriguez. These are really things that I like.”
Let me start there. I think a lot of American audiences in particular are going to know your work best from Persepolis, and then they’re going to see The Voices and wonder what the connection is. Where you trying to do something very different, or do you see a direct through-line between these films?
I really don’t look at myself with a distance. I don’t know. I know there’s something in common for all my films, to have a sense of framing a sense of aesthetic and, I think, of humor. No matter what happens I [pick projects with which] I can laugh. Otherwise I get really bored.
Otherwise, it was something that I had to say. I had to make Persepolis, and have different lives. I cannot make Persepolis 1 and 2 and 3, and return and come back. It’s not possible. I have something to say and once I have done it I get really bored by what I know how to do, and then I want to try to do something that I don’t know how to do, because probably, basically the motor of what makes me move is my fear. I go, “Oh God, how am I going to do that?!” and then I get very excited and I have to use my brain. So this is the way it goes.
What was it that led you to do something so… let’s go with the word “macabre?” What was it that led you to this particular story?
Well, I love macabre stuff. This is the stuff, you know what I mean? You can’t see it so much in Persepolis. I love it. I love a dash of blood. I love Robert Rodriguez. These are really things that I like. I enjoy watching it. They offered me other films that had much more budget, but about the force of nature, and adolescents, and lots of dwarves and witches and wizards, and I keep saying, “I’ll never go to watch them, so why would I spend two years of my life doing them?”
But a film like The Voices is a film that I would go to watch. […] When I read the script, the beginning half was like, “What the hell is that? Is it a comedy, is it a horror film, is that a drama film? What is it?” And I still cannot tell you what it is because it’s a little bit of all of that at the same time. But then after, I was like, “So how come I like this serial killer so much? Why am I such a big fan of this cat?” I became obsessed by this thing, and it doesn’t leave you, and you feel like you have to do it.