It hardly seems fair for me to review this film. I mean, I totally enjoyed it but we should probably find someone who was actually frightened during certain parts of it. I mean, I was never scared, nope not once. And now, here I am alone in the house and there is not a sound. Christ, I'm turning on the stereo.
Okay, that's better; a little Aerosmith makes the world a safer place.
Fine, Dead Silence did get to me. A little, but those dolls are freaky. Leigh Whannell and James Wan have created and delivered a first class horror film and the first truly decent horror film of 2007. And don't mistake this for another Chucky film. Billy 57 would use Chucky as kindling for a cozy fire.
Here's the story. Jamie Ashen (Kwanten) is at home spending a nice evening with his wife when there is a knock at the door. Opening the door, Jamie finds a large box on the floor. The only marking on the package is his name written on the outside. Once the package is opened, they find a case and inside the case is an old ventriloquist dummy.
After some joking around and a little discussion, Jamie leaves to go pick up dinner and returns to his apartment only to find his wife murdered and himself the only suspect. However, he is dead set on finding the connection between the doll and his wife's death. He discovers that under the lining of the case there is an engraving for Mary Shaw and her ventriloquist act in his home town of Raven's Fair.
It is there he travels, both to discover what happened to his wife and why he was the recipient of one of Mary Shaw's 101 dolls. But the town has a superstition about Mary Shaw and her dolls and as the legend tells, she will take the tongue of any victim she hears scream.
Dead Silence is at its heart a good old-fashioned ghost story and that is just what we needed, right? Well, I think so at least.
Wan, as director, has improved since he started with the Saw franchise and is finally able to show off his talent and style. But I do think there were a couple of hat tips to Saw in the film.
The acting… hmmm. That might be a problem to discuss without getting into a fight with some people. Ryan Kwanten as Jamie did a good job, but somehow just didn't convince me that he was someone who had just had his wife murdered in a horrible fashion.
Donnie Wahlberg actually did a very good job as the disheveled cop with good intentions. He was, frankly, one of the brighter points of the film. Michael Fairman, as Henry, the town's mortician, gave his usual hammy but well done performance and it was still a delight to watch this man work. He has been around for quite a while but has never really had a part with any real meat to it. Here, I think he has and has been able to bring life to what was probably orginally just a second-rate character.
Judith Roberts as Mary Shaw is just flat out spooky. She did an excellent job and if there are any more of these (and there probably will be) she should always be Mary Shaw. So pay her well.
I have to say that the film was just what I went in hoping for. It was spooky, scary, and had plenty of gore to make your average horror fan quite happy. Take a chance.
**1/2 (it would have been three, but those little dolls freak me)
Directed by James Wan
Written by Leigh Wannell
Starring Donnie Wahlberg, Judith Roberts, Ryan Kwanten, Amber Valletta