ByMike Larson, writer at

(Spoilers for the following movies: The Voices, Donnie Darko, True Romance, Fight Club, Psycho, and The Shining).

In The Voices, director Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis) evokes sympathy on behalf of Jerry, (Ryan Reynolds), the nicest serial killer you’ll ever meet. Due to a tragic incident in Jerry’s youth, a court-appointed psychiatrist (Jacki Weaver) supplies Jerry with meds and warns that if he doesn’t take his pills, he’ll be sent away to prison. The catch is, if Jerry takes his pills, he’ll feel the cold and sobering reality that he is a sad and lonely fellow. When the pills wear off, Jerry hears the voices of his sweet dog Bosco, and evil Scottish cat, Mr. Whiskers (both impressively voiced by Reynolds). Mr. Whiskers helps Jerry clear his conscience and find the silver lining in killing loved ones and keeping their heads as trophies.

As I left the theater, I couldn’t help but remember Roger Ebert’s assertion that cinema “is the closest we can come to understanding how a stranger really feels.” Why did I feel for Jerry despite his horrible acts? Was it the fact that despite his sickness he also felt remorse for his actions?

If Jerry can pop his pills and learn to live with the mundane world, maybe he can also live without the voices that plague his mind. In honor of Jerry’s struggle to suppress the voices, lets look at 5 of cinema’s greatest imaginary bad influences that drove others to kill.

1) FRANK THE RABBIT (Donnie Darko):

Donnie Darko’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) imaginary bunny, Frank appears before Donnie, manipulating the troubled young man and pushing him to commit such horrendous acts as: flooding his school, burning down Patrick Swayze’s house, and killing himself with the aid of a falling jet engine. Sure, he saves the world, but if you ask me, that bunny is fucking evil.

When He Blew My Mind:

The famous movie theater scene where Donnie asks Frank why he wears, “that stupid bunny suit.” Frank’s replies: “Why do you wear that stupid man suit?” Oh shit! That just got deep, son!

Why He Scares the Shit Out of Me:

Look at that mask! Are those eyes? Are those teeth? What the FUCK!!? Mommy, I want to wake up!!!! Don’t even start with that, “The world will end in 28 days,” shit.

2) ELVIS (True Romance):

When Clarence (Christian Slater) finds himself in love with prostitute Clementine (Patricia Arquette) and on the run from her scary pimp Drexl (Gary Oldman), he discusses his deepest fears with the imaginary ghost of Elvis, who helps the young lover lay out his game plan for survival: get them before they get you.

When He Blew My Mind:

The bathroom scene where Clarence, at his most desperate, admits, in reference to Drexl: “I do want to kill him. But I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in jail. […] If I could get away with it…” Elvis replies: “Get away with it? Killin’s the hard part. Getting away with it? That’s easy. Do you think a cop gives a fuck about a pimp? Listen, if every pimp in the world gets shot – two in the back of the fuckin’ head – cops’ll throw a party, man. As long as you’re not at the scene of the crime, smokin’ gun in your hand, you’ll get away with it.” Killing never sounded so easy.

Why He Scares the Shit Out of Me:

Next time I’m talking to myself in a bathroom mirror don’t sneak up on me, man. I don’t care who the fuck you are. That shit’s creepy.

3) TYLER DURDEN (Fight Club):

Tyler Durden is everything Fight Club’s Narrator (Edward Norton) wishes he was. The cool and charismatic leader of a rogue terrorist cult called Project Mayhem, Tyler’s most frightening quality is that he often makes a lot of sense. With the power to control his followers, Tyler seeks to destroy everything he finds wrong with the world. The only thing Tyler isn’t is real. When our Narrator finally realizes that Tyler is his alter ego, every prank, every punch, and every act of terrorism is immediately pinned to his unknowing hand. Shit.

When He Blew My Mind:

When Tyler said: “We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.” This hurts because it’s so good. Shit if he isn’t one convincing ass motherfucker.

Why He Scares the Shit Out of Me:

Tyler’s like that cool older brother who shows you the ropes and gives you confidence. But he’s also like that shitty older brother who burns your hand with lye to prove, “it’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

4) NORMA BATES (Psycho):

Let me say this: Norman Bates has issues. He keeps his mother’s corpse in the basement, dresses as her, speaks to himself in her voice, and kills unsuspecting travelers who stop for a night at the Bates Motel. To make matters worse, he never knocks when entering a bathroom. Whatever led Norman to keep his mother alive and motivate him to kill, Hitchcock leaves to our imagination and cable TV exploits for profit. Technically, Norma was once alive and it is rather her imagined presence in Norman’s life that drives him to commit his horrible acts.

When She Blew My Mind is also Why She Scares the Shit Out of Me:

Probably one of the greatest twists in film history is the climactic reveal that Norma is dead. Her pruned, toothy corpse-face still gives me the willies.

5) DELBERT GRADY (The Shining):

Before he takes the job as new caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is told that the previous caretaker, a man named Delbert Grady, went insane and murdered his wife and children there. Later, when Jack talks to a kind spirit dressed as a butler, he learns that the spirit is Grady, who confesses to murdering his family, admitting, “I corrected them sir,” before persuading Jack to follow in his footsteps.

When He Blew My Mind:

In the bathroom scene, when Jack says: “Mr. Grady, you were the caretaker here.” To which Grady replies: “I'm sorry to differ with you sir, but you are the caretaker. You've always been the caretaker. I should know sir – I've always been here.” Holy shit! What does that mean!? I don’t know but I’m scared.

When He Scared the Shit Out of Me:

In the same bathroom scene, Mr. Grady warns Jack of Dick Hallorann’s (Scatman Crothers) return to the Overlook when summoned by Danny, he drops the N-word out of nowhere. Whoa man! What the fuck!? I know there’s a lot of murder in this movie, but I think Grady’s racism (especially the fact he’s so comfortable with that word and sees no problem whatsoever with it’s use) is perhaps the most appalling moment in the whole film.

The Voices is out today in theaters and On Demand!


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