Starring: Ryan Kwanten (Jamie), Amber Valletta (Ella), Donnie Wahlberg (Detective Lipton), Michael Fairman (Henry), Edward (Bob Gunton), Laura Regan (Lisa), Judith Roberts (Mary Shaw)
Year - 2007
Score - 1.5 Howls Outta 4
DEAD SILENCE starts with Jamie (Kwanten) and Lisa (Regan) receiving a package at the door. They open it and realize it’s a ventriloquist doll that’s left in Jamie’s name. Lisa begins to recite some rhyme about the legend of Mary Shaw (Roberts), which makes Jamie remember about his childhood and become cautious of the doll. He leaves for some take out, but comes back to find that Lisa is dead with her tongue cut out. Wondering if the doll had anything to do with it, James returns to his home town to investigate the legend of Mary Shaw.
Jamie returns home after many years, to which he is greeted by his father’s new wife (Valletta). Jamie’s sickly father, Edward (Gunton), tells Jamie about Mary Shaw and how she was hunted down and murdered by the local townsfolk because she was considered evil by many. Ever since, she has returned from the dead to get revenge on the descendants of those who killed her, often in the guise of dolls. Jamie realizes he’s a descendant and knows that he’s in danger of Shaw’s vengeance. However, Shaw has been framing Jamie for murders. This brings in Detective Lipton (Wahlberg), who is following Jamie to find out what’s going on with these murders and if Jamie is behind them.
I didn’t see this film last year, but I did read and hear many opinions about it - pretty much all bad. I liked the trailers and didn’t think it could be THAT bad, ya know? Plus I liked Wan’s SAW and DEATH SENTENCE, so I figured this would be at least pretty decent. While DEAD SILENCE isn’t a total bomb, I wasn’t too impressed in the film at all. I just felt pretty "eh" while watching it, wondering how Wan and co-writer Leigh Whannell could take that old Goosebumps story about the "Night of the Living Dummy" and turn it into such a dull, pretty idiotic film. The narrative was told around that dreaded twist ending, which I did get and pretty much rolled my eyes at its predictability. I’m glad Wan and Whannell tried to give the viewers an "old fashioned" ghost story in midst of countless remakes of films we really don’t need redone, but I wish the narrative would have focused more on telling that story better. All I got was countless interpretations of the Mary Shaw story, which had my finger tapping on the stop button of my DVD remote. Once is enough. I got it the first time.
I did think the direction by Wan was very good, as the film was very stylished and the cinematography was beautiful. There was some suspense and tension and the pace was pretty quick. The acting wasn’t half-bad either, although no one really stands out. It was just your standard mainstream modern ghost horror film that tried to do alot in 90 minutes but didn’t do enough instead.
THE FINAL HOWL - Wait for cable. You’re not gonna miss anything by not renting or buying this film. If you want to see a good James Wan film, check out SAW or DEATH SENTENCE. DEAD SILENCE is Wan’s brain fart of a film. Keep quiet about this one.