Dead Silence

"Terrible"

Dead Silence Review


Dead Silence sucks. It's as simple as that. I like schlocky horror films as much as the next guy, but there's nothing to like about this one. Not one thing. Warming your hands over a burning ten-dollar bill is preferable to watching this film.

It's the sort of bad movie that makes you wonder how it emerged a winner from the studio production lottery. Surely a surplus of terrible ideas exists in Hollywood, so how did this particular steaming pile get made into a movie? I can't say for sure. The inner workings of Hollywood deal-making are beyond my expertise, so I'll confine my comments on Dead Silence to its general awfulness, resisting the urge to speculate on which member of the film's creative team kidnapped and held for ransom which studio executive's infant child -- the only possible explanation for green-lighting a movie this irredeemably bad. (Here's why: The filmmakers made the studio a lot of cash with the Saw series. -Ed.)

If you haven't seen the Dead Silence trailer, you may not know that the film centers on a murderous ventriloquist, whose spirit has risen from the dead, and an army of spooky dummies who do her bidding. It's hard to say whether director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Wannell, both of whom are credited for dreaming up the story, were inspired by Chucky from the Child's Play movies or the scary clown doll from Poltergeist, but one thing is clear: Dead Silence possesses exactly zero ounces of originality. (The title sequence, for instance, is the filmic equivalent of plagiarism -- unrepentantly stealing from Steven Soderbergh's 2005 film, Bubble.)

The movie starts with some painfully awkward exposition followed by -- what else? -- a murder. One night James Ashen (Ryan Kwanten) and his wife, Lisa, discover a package containing a ventriloquist dummy left in front of their apartment door. Despite their foggy recollections of a ghost story from their childhood involving dummies and a psychotic ventriloquist who cuts out people's tongues, they don't think too much about the mysterious package. James goes to pick up some Chinese food and returns to find his wife dead, her tongue gruesomely removed and the doll lying in a heap next to her corpse. The detective assigned to the case, Jim Lipton (Donnie Walhberg), quickly fingers Ashen as the prime suspect, thus setting the wheels of plot in motion. With Lipton watching his every step, Ashen returns to his hometown to bury his wife and find the answer to her murder. He discovers that long ago a ventriloquist named Mary Shaw was killed by an enraged mob and ever since then certain families in the community have been killed off, one by one, each person's tongue ripped out by the avenging Mary Shaw and her legion of dummies.

In my movie-watching experience, I've seen Superman turn back time, zombies come to life, and Meg Ryan fall in love with Billy Crystal. And in each case, I was onboard, willing and eager to suspend my disbelief. That wasn't the case with Dead Silence. Wan and Wannell are determined not to acknowledge the inherent campiness of a movie featuring killer ventriloquist dummies and a spectral puppeteer. It's as if they think their grim refusal to address the obviously ridiculous makes it less so. Have they not seen the Scream movies? Do they know that self-awareness has been part of the horror genre for more than a decade now?

During the screening I attended, I fought off more than one urge to shake my fist at the screen. This is filmmaking at its wretched worst. At least Child's Play had a sense of humor. All Dead Silence has is dummies.

Now who's the dummy?



Dead Silence

Facts and Figures

Run time: 89 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th March 2007

Box Office USA: $16.5M

Budget: $20M

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Twisted Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 21%
Fresh: 16 Rotten: 60

IMDB: 6.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jamie Ashen, as Jim Lipton, as Edward Ashen, as Ella, as Lisa Ashen, as Police officer, as Henry, Keir Gilchrist as Henry (young), as Mary Shaw, Joan Heney as Marion Walker

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Advertisement
Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.