Thursday, November 27, 2008

Horror Movie Review: Dead Silence

Dead Silence

Starring: Ryan Kwanten, Amber Valletta, Donnie Wahlberg, Michael Fairman, and Bob Gunton

Directed by: James Wan

Written by: Leigh Whannell and James Wan

Production Companies: Universal Pictures, Twisted Pictures, and Evolution Entertainment

Release Date: March 16, 2007

Let's face it...Dolls are creepy. Miniature, humanesque figures of wood or plastic with unnatural face facades with empty eyeDummy Billy isn't the only cast member to give a wooden performace in Dead Silence.s gazing out dispassionately behind false smiles. Creepy. Then there's the ventriloquist dummy...a specialized doll designed to better simulate a living thing...and all the more creepy for it.

James Wan and Leigh Whannell take that idea, leaving behind their success with Saw I-III, and venture anew with Dead Silence.

Jamie and Lisa Ashen come from a small town where ventriloquist dummies are bad omens. So when one shows up outside of their door shortly before Lisa's mysterious murder, Jamie returns home for some answers, followed by Detective Lipton. Jamie pries from the locals the story of Mary Shaw, ventriloquist spinster murdered for her supposed connection with the disappearance of a young boy. Does Mary Shaw's ghost continue to torment the small town? What is the connection Mary Shaw and Billy asks the audience, Who's the dummy now. Clearly we are.between Mary Shaw and Lisa's death?

The premise behind Dead Silence is a bit hokey, but not without potential. Unfortunately, Wan and Whannell aren't able to exploit that potential.

It was clear they were trying to create a tense mood for the audience to be nervously awaiting the next jump and scare. However, all of the sttempts petered out and failed. The ambiance was there, the expectation of the scares was there...but in the end we could see Wan's and Whannell's lips moving and the result was a dull mystery.
Ryan Kwanten tries to find some emotion in Dead Silence.
Star Ryan Kwanten seemed unable to portray a sincere man trying to solve the mystery of his wife's death, and his apparent detachment from the role made it difficult for the audience to feel any passion for his quest.

Bob Gunton and Amber Valletta star as Edward and Ella Ashen, Jamie's wheelchair bound father and his new, trophy wife. Gunton commands the screen in his subdued role evoking more emotion than Kwanten is able to muster. Valletta seemed much like her character, a trophy actress in a limited role. It's hard to tell if she could have done a better job with a more substantial role. Perhaps she'll get more of an acting opportunity in the sci-fi thriller Game, set in a future-world where humans can control other humans in mass-scale, multi-player online gaming environments.

Donnie Wahlberg steals the show.Donnie Wahlberg plays the sarcastic Detective Lipton. Lipton is easily the most captivating character in the movie. Had Dead Silence focused more on Lipton, then even if it wasn't scarier, it would have at least been more entertaining. Wahlberg is the horror heavyweight of the cast having appeared in The Sixth Sense, Dreamcatcher, and Saw II-V.
All Mary Shaw wants is some tongue.
The ending to Dead Silence was the most interesting and helped keep the film from being a total waste. I hesitate to call it a twist ending, because it didn't really explain or clarify the events of the movie any better. It was more of a novelty ending, so, while interesting, it didn't exactly redeem the whole film.

If you want a scary ventriloquist doll movie, check out Magic. If you just want evil toys in general, Puppetmaster or Child's Play. but keep Dead Silence hushed.

LOL Dummy says, I cantz sleepziz. Gotz wood.
Related Movie Previews

Saw V starring Donnie Wahlberg. Currently in theaters.

Magic starring Anthony Hopkins from 1978.

Puppetmaster from 1989

Child's Play from 1988

Dying Breed starring Saw and Dead Silence writer Leigh Whannell. Currently playing in Australia.


kelloggs said...

I'm really getting sick of all these dark movies (i.e. The Ring, The Grudge, Pulse, etc.). It's like nowadays they don't have any other way to set a creepy mood than by using gray filters. And for me, it's more depressing than creepy.
Have you ever seen that old Twilight Zone about the ventriloquist doll? That was far more entertaining than this piece of s***. It did have that startle factor, but that's about it.

Bodog said...

Yeah, if your fear factor is detemined largely by a camera trick, then there's a problem.

I remember seeing that Twilight Zone growing up. It was much better. I've heard about an Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode that I'd like to see, and the 1940-something Dead of Night.