Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Film Review: Dead Silence (2007)

Dead Silence (Review)
United States/2007
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray (Ais)
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"...some fun and exciting horror..."

The legend of Mary Shaw tells the story of a woman who will cut your tongue out if you scream when you see her in your dreams. Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten) receives a ventriloquist doll that will awaken this nightmare...

Dead Silence follows Jamie after he receives a creepy ventriloquist doll named “Billy.” While Jamie is out, Billy murders his wife, leaving Jamie the sole suspect. So, Jamie tracks the doll to Mary Shaw and travels back to his hometown to solve his wife's murder and stop this onslaught of violence. Of course, he'll be followed by smart-alec cliché cop Detective Limpton (Donnie Wahlberg). I liked the climax and the ending of the film; it's a little cheap and a little unnecessary, but good, nonetheless.

Dead Silence is a straightforward and simple horror film – maybe to a fault. But I do applaud the film for going beyond the typical supernatural horror we get today. It does have a supernatural theme, in a sense, but it's not your typical ghost story. However, the story does suffer from some bland character, some disjointed storytelling, and an occasionally uneventful plot. For example, Jamie Ashen is a very simple character – so simple, he may as well not be a character at all – in other words, he's forgettable. As for storytelling, this film does not flow naturally – it feels like it jumps from scene to scene, stylishly but without any bridge.

Fortunately, Dead Silence is fun and exciting horror. Whereas films like Home Sweet Home fail miserably in using dead silence to craft suspense, Dead Silence succeeds. In fact, the film's use of silence adds to the eerie and creepy atmosphere of the film. It also gives the film a more distinct personality. Anyway, the film has some nail-biting suspense, more than a handful of jolting jump-scares, and some grizzly visuals; if you hate dolls, especially ventriloquist dolls, then this might give you nightmares. Even more fortunate: the film has a strong focus on horror – it delivers set piece after set piece – they may not be well connected and it may negatively affect the plot, but it ultimately delivers the horror goods.

The acting is okay. Ryan Kwanten isn't bad per se, but he doesn't really have the screen presence or charisma for a leading man; his safe performance adds negatively to his boring character. Mark Wahlberg Sorry, sorry, I mean Donnie Wahlberg delivers a surprisingly decent performance; I say “surprisingly” because his character his very cliché. The film is very stylish; I personally enjoyed the cinematography and lighting immensely. The music is fantastic; I loved the theme for this film, it has been one of my favorites since I first watched Dead Silence years ago. Director James Wan masterfully crafts a suspenseful horror film; the story could use some fine-tuning and the film could benefit from some better performances, but the horror is spot-on.

Overall, Dead Silence is a very good horror film. I know the story has a handful of flaws, but I genuinely enjoyed the ventriloquist doll concept and the legend of Mary Shaw the story creates. James Wan also creates more than a handful of amazing horror set pieces – some of which are in my all-time favorites. If you're looking for some fun and exciting horror, and don't mind some bland character and contrived story, this is for you.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood.

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