Universal Pictures Dead Silence (Unrated) (Combo HD DVD and StandardDVD)Billy in Dead Silence inevitably recalls other possessed dolls such as those in Devil Doll, but he is an entertaining dummy nonetheless. As a variatio... more »n on evil-doll films like Child's Play or Puppet Master, Dead Silence stars a dummy who isn't a killer himself but a vehicle for a vengeful ghost. Previously owned by Mary Shaw, a ventiloquistwho was murdered by local Ravens Hill villagers for kidnapping a boy to turn him into a human puppet, Billy houses Mary Shaw's spirit while she gets revenge on all those who killed her. Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten) unravels Billy's mystery after Billyis delivered to his door to claim Jamie's wife's life, since she is pregnant with Jamie's son. MaryShaw aims to obliterate his entire Ashen clan, since they were partially responsible for her death.Plot, from there, teeters on the ridiculous, as Mary (via Billy) rips peoples tongues out left and right. Jamie's futile attempts to stop Shaw's ghost result in his discovering a gruesome secret about his brutal, abusive father.« less
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Doll got your tongue?
Staci L. Wilson | USA | 06/12/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Jamie Ashen's wife is murdered, shortly after the couple receives the anonymous gift of an antique ventriloquist dummy called Billy. Uncovering a clue on the case the doll arrived in, Jamie heads for his hometown of Raven's Fair, where a puppet-mistress called Mary Shaw is said to have laid a deadly curse.
There've been rumblings here and there that Universal Studios whittled Dead Silence into something a little less than intended. If that is true, I'm holding out hope for the unrated cut on disc. I understand there's an alternate ending, and I'm curious to find out more. I saw the film in its theatrical release, and overall, I liked it: It's very atmospheric, and it's refreshing to see a director (James Wan, of Saw fame) keep trying new things.
The dolls in this movie are truly creepy, and if that's what you're after, plan yourself a marathon of certain episodes of The Twilight Zone, X-Files, the 70s classic Magic, and of course, Dead Silence as the cherry on top.
Staci Layne Wilson "
Creepy dummies will make you scream
Alan Draven | Montreal, Canada | 03/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One day, Jamie (Ryan Kwanten) and his wife find a box with no return address on their doorstep: It contains a ventriloquist dummy. When Jamie goes to buy takeout that night, he comes back to find his wife's been murdered and her tongue's been cut out. He becomes the number one suspect in Detective Lipton's (Donnie Wahlberg) investigation. Upon returning to his hometown of Raven's Fair to bury her, he begins to think that there might be more behind his wife's murder than he first thought. The old poem about Mary Shaw and her 101 dolls to scare the kids might have been true after all. He starts digging and soon finds out a lot of nasty things about Raven's Fair.
From James Wan and Leigh Whannell, co writers of the Saw films comes a creepy killer doll movie. James Wan, who's directing his second film (he only directed the first Saw film), masterfully directs this very atmospheric film; the fog, eerie lighting, zoom outs, and gloomy score by Charlie Clouser (also a Saw veteran) all contribute in making this film an above average horror film. You can tell that this project was done by true horror fans that are passionate about their craft. Don't expect a Saw-type film; this isn't a torture, gore and guts kind of movie, more of a sinister ghost story and it works on most levels.
The film had the touch of classic fifties and eighties horror films which I think it paid great homage to. If you've been missing good old-fashioned horror flicks without all that ultra violence, this movie's for you. Kwanten is very believable as the protagonist. Wahlberg, whose screen time is minimal, steals the scene every shot he gets. The supporting cast is filled with familiar faces and does a good job as well. The special effects were nicely done and the doll designs oozed creepiness to boot. There were a few reactions from the characters that made me wince; Lisa goes back to the bedroom after everything stops and goes dead quiet (Dead Silence, get it?) when she should have been running out of there, also, after Jamie's done burying the doll and he sees shadows moving around his car, no one in their right mind would've opened their door to check what it was (but that's what characters did in eighties horror movies). The finale had a good build-up and in true Whannell-Wan fashion, yes, there's a cool twist-ending. Make sure to pay attention to the pan of the camera during the confrontation near the end, you'll be able to spot a cameo from a character from the Saw films (kind of like Where's Waldo).
If you're part of the new kids who dig their horror movies with buckets of blood, lots of gruesome torture scenes and plenty of violence, then this might not be the film for you. Although, if you're a fan of those old killer doll movies a la Dolls (1987), Puppet Master (1989) and Child's Play (1988), then you'll really dig Dead Silence."
GOOD OLD FASHIONED HORROR FILM ! DOLLS ARE SCARY!
! MR. KNOW IT ALL ;-b | TRI STATE AREA | 01/26/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What a breath of fresh air this film was to watch!.....or should I say a breath of good old fashioned "Universal" chills? I finally watched this movie and I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of creepy atmosphere it had. The dolls in this movie are freaky looking and I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up more than once while watching this classic style fright flick. This is a "ghost story" in every sense of the words and ventriloquist dolls are very, very scary! There are some clever plot twist and excellent camera work in this spooky thrill ride that plays like your riding through an old creepy dark ride at an amusement park or carnival. I also found that the use of 'silence'("Dead Silence")when things are about to go wrong, was ingenious and it worked like the music in 'Jaws' did, whenever it went silent you knew something bad was going to happen! This is one of the cleverest horror movies I've seen in a while and it has little or no gore. Look quick for the "Saw Puppet" on the floor amongst the debris! Stay up late, turn out the lights and watch this alone!......you'll see what I mean!"
Could have been even better with decent cast
RMurray847 | Albuquerque, NM United States | 03/17/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This movie, from the guys who brought us the SAW trilogy, is going to disappoint anyone who is expecting that sort of gore, torture and griminess. Okay, it is grimy, but it is not gory. Despite an R rating, it's a fairly tame CREEPY supernatural story. It feels very old school, almost like an episode of NIGHT GALLERY.
The creepy ventriloquist's doll Billy, who actually does almost nothing in the movie...is the STAR. Just sitting there, lovingly photographed in shadow...he'll make the hairs on your neck stand up. We respond to him in an illogical way, but it can't be helped. Those dummies are just a little weird.
The story of DEAD SILENCE is not terribly original, but it does stay true to the expectations of the form. It also has a decent surprise ending that you'll probably see coming...but only a few minutes before our "hero" does. My wife, 14 year old daughter and I were all quite satisfied. This is a genre film that for a change of pace, actually delivers some solid chills...unlike THE MESSENGERS, DARK WATER, etc. etc.
It does have some problems, though. Namely Ryan Kwantan, the lead actor in the film who is such a dreadful actor I felt actually angry at him for ruining the film. Totally incapable of any display of convincing emotion. Just the pits. And Donnie Wahlberg mostly looks bored by his character...a cop who is the worst law-enforcement officer ever and apparently works for a police force that consists of just him. The film is low-budget, but some decent CGI work saves it. But the poor casting really shows the low-budget seams.
It's an okay film that could have been more."
A Jumble of Dummies
R. Schultz | Chicago | 07/09/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There are some genuinely creepy moments in "Dead Silence." A wide-eyed, wooden dummy in the room is always a source of suspense. The movie gets especially interesting when its protagonist first returns to his hometown of Raven's Fair to bury his wife. Several suggestive scenes there might lead viewers to suspect a truly inventive horror. However these themes aren't developed in any coherent way. They are only explained in slapdash flashback at the end of the film. If they had been made into the concentrated heart of this film, this would have been a superior thriller.
As it is though, this movie loses its way in a hodgepodge of ghostly special effects. Avenging spirits are superimposed on all sorts of reanimated entities. It's like "The Shining," which actually was a series of unrelated eerie plot lines paraded across the screen. But this film doesn't have any of The Shining's style or conviction. In fact, James Wan, the Director of "Dead Silence," says in one of the DVD extras that he purposely threw every sinister visual he could think of - except the kitchen sink - into the story. Then when the film was almost complete - he threw in the kitchen sink as well. He boasts about this as if it were a good thing. However in fact, he spoiled his film with a superfluity of the supernatural.
In addition, he let too many amateurish performances crowd his scenes. The detective, for example, is very unconvincing.
There are perhaps some elements of this film that may haunt you. It features a good warning line that the townspeople repeat - "Beware the stare of Mary Shaw..." This incantation almost rivals the old rhyme that Madam Ouspenskaya recited to Lon Chaney, Jr. to warn him of his werewolf fate. "Even a man who is pure at heart, and says his prayers by night..."
On the whole though, there are many better film opportunities to be scared by potentially homicidal ventriloquist's dummies. There is of course Anthony Hopkins' turn in "Magic." However, the most truly frightening take and twist on the theme that I've seen was the Alfred Hitchcock TV episode entitled "The Glass Eye." That episode stars Tom Conway. It first aired in October of 1957 and is available in the complete "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" series.
Then if you want to catch a brief spoof of the genre, check out Seinfeld's "The Chicken Roaster" episode from that sitcom's 1996 season. Jerry and Kramer switch apartments and Jerry is left alone with Mr. Marbles, the dummy that Kramer acquired. He pulls the covers up to avoid facing whatever thing goes - not bump - but more ominously yet - pitta-pat, pitta-pat, pitta-pat in the night. "