What’s it about?
A widower returns to his hometown to search for answers to his wife’s murder, which may be linked to the ghost of a murdered ventriloquist.
Directed by James Wan
Beginning with Saw, then Dead Silence, Death Sentence and eventually Insidious and it’s sequel (Also the latest Fast and Furious film), James Wan has been quite busy (while make a big impression) and has been knocking ‘em dead. He is a dedicated, diverse and talented movie director with a eye for arresting images, quick but evocative cuts and compositions. He can maintain mood and build suspense with the best of them. I was very impressed by Dead Silence and with Wan’s ability to handle the material supplied by Insidious scribe and actor Leigh Whannell. It is a eerie, stylish and sophisticated ghost/revenge story that is a bit flashy in parts mostly due to the way the movie is cut but none the less very creepy, intriguing and full of mystery.
Without spoiling the story or plot, it involves a dead female Ventriloquist named Mary Shaw that has a pretty horrific back story that affects our protagonist, named Jamie, played very believably and with good nature by True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten, and his wife and extended family. Of course it takes place in a very moody, desolate and barren town that is in total fear of the entire legend of Mary Shaw and her wooden dummies who are the centerpieces of this stylish and sleek little horror film. Wan plays on the fears of the unknown with small peeks into what makes the characters tick using the supernatural to explain the forces behind the mysterious circumstances. The movie also takes a solid turn into displaying the very real fear of puppets and dummies that many people have.
Donnie Wahlberg supplies a very decent turn in Dead Silence as a detective, named Det. Lipton, who is closely following Jamie (Kwanten) as he investigates the strange occurrences in the small and frightened town. Jamie’s wife, earlier in the film was seemingly murdered, not by Jamie but a very ominous dummy that was delivered to their front door. Dead Silence even has a wonderful little twist that is not easily telegraphed until the very end that is refreshing and engaging. It is easily a strength that keeps the movie from derailing in the last act like so many horror movies these days.
Unfortunately, though, Wan does gives us the cliched montage of flashbacks while we are being brought up to speed to what has transpired throughout the film, which lessens the overall impact somewhat. Dead Silence from Wan has some nice moments and flourishes as well as a very nice film palette supplied by DP John R. Leonetti who also shot The Conjuring and Insidious for Wan. As well as The Mask for Chuck Russell. Leonetti’s look for the enigmatic and perplexing town is great to look at.
All in all, Dead Silence is watchable, full of mood, sports nice photography and a killer score by Charlie Clouser (Saw). It is a tidy supernatural thriller that, even though has some cliched twists and scares, still manages to pull viewers into a otherworldly universe. A universe of dark fables, urban legends and a creepy female antagonist and her very scary looking dolls. I recommend it for a late and rainy night when the thunder and lightening is crashing down on you. Enjoy!