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House of Voices (Bilingual) [Import]

Virginie Ledoyen , Lou Doillon , Pascal Laugier    R (Restricted)   DVD

Price: CDN$ 32.63 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.9 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Atmospherically Frightening Tale That Falls Short... Nov. 12 2005
By Kim Anehall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
House of Voices original title Saint Ange refers to an orphanage in the French Alps in the year 1958. The orphanage, once full of children, prepares for the final move out, after a mysterious and terrible accident where a child slipped and fell in the bathroom, which the audience bears witness to in the opening. The protagonist Anna (Virginie Ledoyen) arrives amidst the chaotic scurrying in and out of the large building, as she is the only one carrying stuff inside. It almost feels like the rats are abandoning the ship while Anna is the only one who decides to stay, which immediately suggests that something is not right with the situation.

The camerawork enhances the eerie atmosphere with its cool bluish tint, which brings out the coolness and detached mood that the place emits. In addition, the peculiar camera angles elevate the weird feeling of the place. The abandoned orphanage almost produces a similar tension that Shining (1980) radiates where the husband decides to spend the winter with his family in a remote hotel, as a caretaker. In this story, Anna stays as the assistant to the caretaker, as she attempts to deal with her pregnancy. The parallels are strikingly similar, yet it does not come close to Kubrick's brilliant version of Stephen King's novel.

Not to give anything away, but there is something spooky about the orphanage (duh!), which the initial bathroom scene obviously portrays. The creepy atmosphere lingers throughout the film while some scenes have intensified moments of eeriness such as when Anna discovers old files of children in a forsaken part of the orphanage grounds and her nightmares, which will have the audience leaping out of their seats. Despite the scary elements, Anna remains working at the orphanage while she continues to hide her pregnancy to the two remaining characters within the abandoned orphanage, one, the cook and caretaker Helenka (Dorina Lazar) while the second is the estranged teenage orphan Judith (Lou Doillon).

Anna's youth and pregnancy suggests additional twists and uncanny elements to the story in combination with the orphanage. A pregnancy that she hides by tightly wrapping a bandaged around her inflated belly awakens thoughts of child deformation through the tightly secretive wrapping and self-injury. Yet, Ledoyen delivers an ambiguous tone to the character that both despises and loves the unborn within her. In addition, before the complete move out, a little orphan girl whispered something in Anna's ear, which comes back and disturbs her thoughts in regards to scary children. The thought of scary children remerges when she uncovers the files of the orphans in a hidden part of the large garden. At this moment, the film begins to increase the strange things that happen, as Anna seeks the help of Judith to find an answer to what happened to those scary children during World War II and why Judith is the sole survivor.

House of Voices has strong potential to be a very good horror film, but somewhere two thirds into the film a cinematic discomfort becomes obvious. The overuse of peculiar camera angles that indicates some thing is wrong begins to have less of an effect, probably due to desensitization, which limits the way the viewer responds to the eeriness. Also many of these camera angles signal when the scary parts are about to take place, which limits the audience's appreciation of the haunted story. Nonetheless, the film is very well cast, but there are also a couple of scenes where the characters feel a little phony. However, the film succeeds in capturing the ghost-like behavior of all other characters besides the three main individuals in the film. This is an essential facet to the understanding of the culmination of the film, which tries to toss the audience around a little in traditional M. Night Shyamalan manner. The intentional twist will leave some viewers perplexed and others discontent. In either case, the audience will have experienced a decent horror film that tries to bend the rules of storytelling, but does not fully succeed.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very impressive Jan. 11 2006
By David M. Rossi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
House of Voices is an extremely atmospheric thriller that relies heavily on it's characters to propel it along. It also has something else so lacking in today's movies: Style. No matter how you slice it, many of the best horror films from any era ooze style in their presentation and that is what makes them so memorable. Our main character is a girl trying to hide her pregnancy at a home for orphans. Not having come to terms with this pregnancy, she begins to experience dreams and visions, as well as the occasional visit of ghostly children even while she is fully awake. The scenes with the ghost kids are always brief, and some kind of surprising action usually comes of it. The finale is downright eerie as we finally get to see what the children were trying to lead her to. We are led through a section of the orphanage that apparently originally served as some sort of hospital, and the terror is so effective in it's brightly lit, perfectly sterile appearing environment which is visible in this form only to the girl. The last scene will definitely stay with you as it is both creepy and extremely unsettling. If you are tired of the same old thing that's been done over and over again in horror and psychological thrillers, check out House of Voices. I doubt you will be diaappointed.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok Move but lacked direction. Oct. 17 2012
By maskedgamer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
***Spoilers**** Trust me it's the only way to explain this movie.

House of Voices is a more of a mystery/horror type of film. The back setting takes place in an old orphanage to which you see in the beginning something is very wrong in it. When the movie starts a young woman named Anna is just arriving at her new job as a caretaker. Anna as well as the orphanage she now works in both are holding their own secrets. There are several characters in this movie. Anna the young caretaker, Judith who is one of the children from the orphanage that stayed there till adulthood, The old Maid, The Director, and her worker, and The young orphanage girl. When Ana first arrives she runs into The young orphanage girl who gives her a hint that something is not right there. Anna later meets Judith who is mentally unstable and the old maid that acts sort of as a mother to them both by looking after them and giving them advice.

Throughout the Movie Anna seems very suspicious of the orphanage as she goes exploring and snooping around the house finding things the director does not want her to find. The weak part of the movie is that the story doesn't really explain just why she is doing these things. You don't see her having much interaction with the ghost to be given a reason to be compelled enough to look and search the house. It seems for the earlier parts of the movie that Anna is just a detective mysteriously finding clues until after these events that she tells the old maid she hears things and the old maid tells her not to stir things up because it will spook Judith who says the same crazy things. Anna not listening to the maid goes and confronts Judith about what she has heard and the two of them begin to bond.

The Old maid tells Anna more about Judith and how she is one of the survivor children from a long ago crises at the orphanage when many children died because they couldn't be cared for. Anna tries to get Judith to remember the past so she can figure out what happened at the orphanage and why there are ghosts that she sees and hears. Anna's super detective skills lead her to the same bathroom the kids are afraid of in the opening scene. Judith and Anna attempt to uncover the secret of the children as Judith cannot recall much of her own past about them. Anna eventually finds a 2 way mirror (the same mirror that scared the little boy in the beginning) and realizes there's another room behind it. The old maid finds out what Anna is up to and tries to stop her from entering the hidden room but fails to do so. Anna and Judith enter the hidden room and start searching around. Judith uncovers something from her earlier times at the orphanage that brings back her memories and she realizes she Anna is about to uncover something she shouldn't about what happened to the children.

Judith pleads with Anna to stop searching as she starts to recall the terrible memories of what happened. Anna doesn't listen and goes searching further in the hidden room and finds herself into another completely hidden part of the orphanage. In this area Anna finds a hidden laboratory complete with padded rooms, operating tables, incubators and all those sorts of fun things. Anna is finally runs into the ghosts children and she ends up giving birth and dying of a miss carriage. Anna's big secret (that we find out about early into the film) is that at her previous job where she was also a caretaker she had been violently raped by a group of men. She has scars all over her body from the incident and wishes to cause herself a miscarriage to escape being a mother to the child of her attackers.

Later on the Director and her worker find Anna and her baby both dead on the floor of the hidden laboratory section. What's significant about the scene is that Anna is in an old building to which when she first enter the room everything was new. The movie plays a big part on those that see the ghosts and those that cannot see the ghosts. Almost like Silent Hill the innocent people cant see the monsters they just see a normal town but, the wicked see the monsters and the hellish areas of the town. In this movie certain people like the Director and Old maid do not see the ghosts but Anna,Judith and the young girl see and hear the ghosts.

What you're left confused about in this movie is who is sane and who is seeing illusions. The movie doesn't make it clear and the ending throws off many people because it's poorly executed. Including what happened to the children in the laboratory. In the final scene of the movie we see Anna as a ghost nurturing her child in front of the ghosts children as they watch her and Judith looking in on them.

So here is the explanation of the ending. Judith can see the ghosts children because she is connected to them. She was a survivor from their time and therefore as orphanages go she was part of their "family". The visit her because she is like one of their surviving family members. Because of her childlike behavior no one believes her and she is given medication to deal with her "ghosts problems". The young girl can see and hear the ghosts because she is a child and the ghosts want to be with the other orphanage children and like to play games with them like playing with the faucet taps. Anna can see the ghosts because they are attracted to her and that's one of the hidden but major parts of the film that just isn't written well.

The ghosts children are not evil, and what happened to the boy in the beginning was an accident. Just as Anna also fell when she was frightened. The children are really just children that had died due to experimentation's that were done to them by the doctors in hopes of finding a cure for the disease that plagued the many children in the orphanage at that time. The children however are still orphans and what they want to be at piece despite the torment they died in is a Mother. Someone to look after them and care for them. They can sense Anna is pregnant and they want her to be their mother. somehow Judith starts to realize this when they are in the secret room and it's why she begs Anna not to go because she knows that the children want her. After Anna dies she for "poor writing and unexplained reasons" becomes a ghosts trapped in the Orphanage. She has now become not only a mother to the child she did not want but a mother to the ghost children as well so they are no longer alone.

Judith who is not taking her medications anymore can now see the ghosts better and that is the final moment they share. So all in all in this ghost story you're left looking at the victims and someone to blame for all this. The reality is that there isn't anyone to blame for what happened at the orphanage. No one killed the children just to be cruel or merciless. The workers wanted to hide the laboratory because they didn't want anyone to know about the experimentations and deaths that occurred during the research. Which is the history that the director and old maid tries to hide. They all seem very guilty and heartbroken about how many children had died during that time to which Judith is probably one of the few survivors and more or less the reason why they take care of her even though she is an adult.

The other strange scenes include the Mother cat and her Kittens that Anna kills and the old Maid sees her drowning them and it unfortunately accused for doing it. This happens off screen and we don't find out that Anna did it until the end of the movie. Why did Anna kill the kittens? Well that's more poor writing but the best guess can be that she did it because the Mother cat and her kittens represented the motherhood Anna did not want.

Overall this was an ok movie that lacked good direction to deliver key points that the viewer should have gotten. It was worth watching and it's not a bad movie but it could have used more explanation.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you come to it in the right frame of mind, it's worth a watch (3.5 stars) Dec 2 2010
By Lostgirl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
First of all the original title of this film is "Sainte Ange". The US title is House of Voices but that's an amazingly stupid title since it has nothing to do with the film at all. But what's in a name? The film itself was an overall enjoyable experience with some really well done elements. Not perfect by any means but a solid effort in the vein of The Others, The Devil's Backbone, The Orphanage, Turn of the Screw etc.

The movie takes place in 1958 in an orphanage in France. The building is old, creepy, and not fully up to safety code, and when a young boy dies (seemingly as a result of the poor safety precautions) the children are moved elsewhere and the building is shut down until funds are available to fix it up. Staying on in the meantime is the cook, Helenka, the handyman, and Judith (Lou Dillon) a grown orphan with some sort of mental problems who is in Helenka's care. Our heroine, Anna (Virginie Ledoyen), arrives to be the housekeeper of this odd little household. Anna is pregnant as the result of a rape (the details of which are only suggested) and doesn't want the baby. The job offers her an opportunity to retreat for the duration of her pregnancy and a place to give birth in private. Taking notice of some odd occurrences at St. Ange, Anna becomes obsessed with the idea that there is a paranormal source that somehow relates to events that Judith may have witnessed at Saint Ange during the war.

Of course on top of all this Anna has her own issues. She's recovering psychologically from her rape and her pregnancy disgusts her. She is reckless with her health and safety, perhaps in an attempt to cause a miscarriage. This is never actually said: we see her body covered in bruises, from several falls, but we're never told if they're intentional. Ledoyen wisely suggests that perhaps Anna doesn't know herself. But she's in the position not wanting a child, in a building that was made for unwanted children, so perhaps her own unconscious guilt plays into her paranoia as well. Yes, Anna eventually solves the mystery of Saint Ange but that turns out to be something of an anticlimax. For me what was most interesting was the lack of certainty. You could interpret it as a ghost story, or a psychological drama. Both of our heroines, Anna and Judith are unstable. They've suffered physically and psychologically and are therefore not the most reliable witnesses. As a result the film plays with your mind and creates a strong sense of atmosphere that is unabashedly gothic.

After watching this film I looked it up online out of curiosity and was surprised by some of the truely terrible reviews people have given it. Now don't get me wrong. It wasn't a great movie. It lost it's way a bit in the last 1/3 and there were several plot holes and issues with the screenplay. But it did keep me interested throughout, and I spent a bit of time after I saw it, thinking about it. So to me, that's not a waste of time. You just can't come to it with the expectation of seeing a fast paced horror film. You need to be willing to accept a mood piece that's open to several different interpretations.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All sheet, no ghost... Oct. 19 2012
By Brian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This lavish-looking French production, while it does provide simmering atmosphere by the kettle-full, falls well short in the story department, substituting fill-in-the-blank visual cliche (treading heavily on del Toro's turf in particular) for narrative/dramatic cohesion at nearly every turn. Dialogue and acting are also subpar. It reminded me, as such, of Anthony Hickox's 2010 'Knife Edge,' another attractive but creatively malnourished Euro-natural potboiler. Sumptuous photography and creepy setting distinguish what otherwise might pass for a long, mildly intriguing video-game demo. 2-plus stars.

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