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!
This is probably my 2nd favorite film by Wan after The Conjuring. I always thought Saw was too gimmicky for my taste, saw it but had no desire to own it. Wan always seems to use a lot of cliches and horror tropes in his films, but still manages to entertain. This had so many creepy parts in it, it was well worth owning for me. The end flash-back sequences seemed to mirror older murder mystery films, where in the last scene, a narrator (usually the detective) runs through all of the points of the film again, letting the viewers see them in a new light. I actually didn’t mind that at all.
Yeah, I suppose I shouldn’t mind that too much either, Michael but I suppose by the time I got around to watching this movie (which I liked enough to get also) I had seen that done so many other times in other thrillers but I’m nitpicking.
You are right, the ending does reflect how some classic mystery thrillers would conclude. Much like the Agatha Christie movies. I did like Saw and I do own it but I do not re-visit it as much as I do his other films.
I appreciate you stopping by, like always, Michael. Thanks bro and have a good week. Stay in touch!
Clouser does a phenomenal job scoring flicks, especially Saw and this one, very memorable. I rather like this flick, especially just to watch and have fun with :). Excellent post, Vic!
Saw had a very chilling score and it was quite memorable. I like Clouser’s material. As for DS, it is always fun to re-visit now and again. It is a very good looking movie that retains the mood, style and atmosphere of Whannell’s material.
Glad you liked the post. I appreciate you checking in. Thanks very much!
Great Review, I enjoyed this film and i like how Wan seemed to learn what worked and built on what didn’t work for Insidious and Conjuring
Totally agree! Wan has learned much from experimenting and I respect that.
Glad you enjoyed the review. Thanks for checking in!
I only a few dummies. Never knew why I liked them as a child considering I was never able to do the whole ventriloquist act anyways. I remember liking this film a lot, but not much about it. Great review! I actually feel like refreshing my memory!
I like James Wan. Quite a bit, more or less. But somehow I didn’t know this existed. Interesting. I might check it out at some point.
You should! It’s pretty stylish and has some very well executed sequences. Wan makes it all look very good. It is quite overlooked by many much like Wan’s other film Death Sentence with Kevin Bacon.
Glad you stopped in. Much appreciated. Thanks!
Great review! I’m a huge fan of Wan’s work on “Insidious” and “The Conjuring,” and I’ve been wanting to check out “Dead Silence” for a while now. So I started reading your review here cautiously, preparing to go into “skim” mode if it started getting too spoiler-y. But no, you did a really nice job giving us a taste of it without saying too much. Nice job!
Glad you enjoyed the review! I appreciate you checking in. Yeah, I try to keep most of the reviews very spoiler free. Sometimes, I may let one slip but it happens very seldom.
I think you’ll really like DS. Let me know your thoughts on it after you’ve watched it. It has some really cool moments and has great style and mood. Enjoy!
Excellent review! I enjoyed this film as well – and it still think it’s Wan’s best to date.