Movie Review: Dead Silence

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You scream. You die.

One day, Jamie receives a strange package containing a ventriloquist dummy. While Jamie is out getting some take away food, his wife is unexplainable and brutally slaughtered. It appears that it was the doll that commited the murder, but hey, that just can’t be!

But you guessed it – the creepy looking doll is apparently killing people in the most gruesome ways. It all leads to the small town of Ravens Fair and its legend about Mary Shaw – a ventriloquist who went mad in the 1940s and was hunted down by the locals, who cut her tongue out and killed her.

…And now, the ghost of Mary Shaw is back, killing people left and right. And of course, the police detective on the case, played by Donnie Wahlberg, doesn’t believe one word of prime suspect Jamie’s bizarre theories.

In a “making of” among the extras on the DVD, the producer compares DEAD SILENCE to Mario Bava’s classics of the 1960s. And James Wan, the director, talks about how creepy his movie is, since he holds back on the shocks and effects just like they did in the classics.

It seems like they haven’t seen their own movie. DEAD SILENCE sure has all the ingredients to be scary; it’s about an old, female ventriloquist who’s back from the dead, killing people, and the movie is crammed with puppets, something that’s almost always creepy. Unfortunately, Wan (the first SAW) messes it up. He throws bucket after bucket of effects, he uses rapid fire editing, MTV style images and similar things throughout the movie. It rarely happens, but I felt like turning it off half way through. It takes a lot to make me feel like that about genre movies.

If you want a ghost story, rewatch the original THE HAUNTING from 1963 instead of this. Or if you like ventriloquist dolls and good acting, but rather boring movies, there’s always Richard Attenborough’s MAGIC from 1978, starring Anthony Hopkins and Ann-Margret.

As for James Wan, he proved he can make rather decent movies shortly after the release of this misfire. Next Wan directed the vigilante movie DEATH SENTENCE; the violent, DEATH WISH influenced movie starring Kevin Bacon avenging the killing of his son. A pretty good actioner.

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