Dead Silence (2007)

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“Beware the stare of Mary Shaw. She had no children, only dolls. And if you see her do not scream, she’ll rip your tongue out at the seam.” If that doesn’t give you the willies, you are such a liar. Fun fact about me: I have automatonphobia, which is defined as the fear of wax figures, humanoid robots, audio animatronics or other figures designed to represent humans. As you can imagine, going to theme parks is not a pleasant experience for me. As a side note, I almost threw my laptop after Google decided to provide images along with that definition. Curious about just how strong this fear is for me? I’ll gladly provide examples.

Do you remember the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios? The one where the life size T-Rex robot drops down out the freaking ceiling and almost eats you? I cried after merely watching a video of a test ride. The last time I went to Disney World, I came close to having a fear induced meltdown on the Jungle Cruise experience. The “It’s a Small World” ride is what I imagine a descent into hell is like. The point is, I’m petrified of dolls and robots much like someone who fears spiders. Dead Silence is my fears personified in cinematic form, but I loved it because it actually scared me and it stayed with me for a bit after the first time I saw it. After 9 years, would I still have that same paralyzing fear?

Before I get into all of that, I just have to point out one major fact about this movie: its writer and director. Leigh Whannell and James Wan have been behind a couple of the greatest horror movies in the last 10 years. I said a couple, not all. I think they’re incredible just because of how they consistently tap into our most basic fears, and then use suspense to scare you half to death. I am one of many that can’t stand jump scares, but the way these guys use them is kind of remarkable. They are truly talented film-makers, and even their bad movies are fun to watch just because of how well they’re made. Well…sometimes it’s fun. 9 years ago, I would have said this was moving making at its finest. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I said a lot of questionable things 9 years ago. Thanks to maturing and actually learning about what makes a movie good, I’m able to see its many flaws. Also, I was a bit too petrified to notice the glaring and repeated plot holes.

For example, the “grand reveal”: Jamie’s dad has been dead this whole time, and was turned into a ventriloquist dummy by the ghost of Mary Shaw. How did the house not smell like a rotting corpse? How did she prevent the flesh from decaying, or flies from overtaking the house? If you really study his father’s face, it’s pretty easy to see that more happened to him than just a stroke. The guy shares the same complexion as Roger from American Dad. Also, why is a nice chunk of the movie Jamie driving back and forth? There’s really no story progression. It’s him driving, deaths peppered in between the driving, and then the end. After watching this again, I know I was only scared because of an existing fear. The movie itself has little to no weight to it, other than 2 really creepy scenes with dolls.

I’m going to have to give it 2/5. I give it that much because ventriloquist dummies are nightmare-inducing by themselves. Whannell and Wan are amazing at setting the tone, and drawing you into whatever world the story is set in. However, Dead Silence is definitely the weakest out of everything they’ve made. There’s no passion behind it. It’s a generic, creepy doll movie that was done as a way to make money in between Saw films. Thankfully, we dodged a bullet because this did so poorly at the box office that they scraped all plans for future sequels. Whannell himself even admitted this was kind of terrible. Ouch. Anyways, if you want to terrify children or anyone else that’s just as scared of dolls as I am, this is perfect. If you want a well thought out plot along with your scares, check out The Conjuring.

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