Directed by: James Wan.
Starring: Ryan Kwanten, Donnie Wahlberg, Bob Gunton, Amber Valletta, Judith Roberts.
Dead Silence was on my top films list to see for a long time, because the film made little gross in the US, it was directed straight to DVD here (not before being delayed of course). I had hoped for the film to surprise me and be as great as I had hoped also....but it never quite gets there.
The story follows an old ghost story in a sleepy town of Ravens Fair about a woman named Mary Shaw. She was a famous ventriloquist in the 40's who went mad. When a young boy goes missing, they accuse her of murder and is hunted down by the vengeful townspeople cut out her tongue and kill her, as a way to 'silence' her forever. Years on, a young couple receive a package at there front door that contains a ventriloquist doll. When the husband Jamie goes out to get dinner, the doll is left with his wife Lisa. When he returns, he finds her dead, with a gaping mouth and no tongue. From here, he explores his past and goes back to his birthplace of Ravens Fair and starts to unravel a truth about the connection with him and Mary Shaw. I must give credit to Leigh Whannell for aiming at originality, the man behind the Saw films (the audience is 50/50 for those films and I happen to be on the liking side), he appears to be going for something very hard to achieve (whether that was his intention or not)....creating a legend. The idea behind the film is intriguing (although the explanation sounds all too familiar....) and there are moments where the film uses it to its advantage, but something seems missing, something that makes legendary horror icons so memorable, I personally can't put my finger on what that is, but I sit here an hour after the film and it is slowly fading from memory. Aside from the intriguing premise, the script isn't Leigh's best. It runs at a short 86 minutes and is very much 'run of the mill', where a majority of it consists of the main character going back through his past....I know they were just aiming for a simple classic ghost story, but it just felt too formulaic. The cinematography is dripping with dread, it is moody and atmospheric and very effective in scenes, as is the light placement. James Wan is back behind the camera after Saw and thankfully he has gone away from his 'hyperactive' style, instead, he moves a lot slower this time around and uses 'silence' to his advantage and manages to create some creepy moments from it....but the main prop that should have worked better was the dummies. Although there were moments where the lighting was just right and it all felt very eerie, he makes every doll move their eyes to create something chilling and it doesn't work.
I had hoped for more from the film, although visually atmospheric with an intriguing premise and moments that are effectively chilling, a certain touch is missing to really make the film stand out and make the 'villain' an icon....and the movie is just a little too 'run of the mill' and has a twist ending that is surprising, but a bit too far-fetched. A slight disappointment, but not a bad watch for a few chills.