Dead Silence (2007) Director James Wan (Cert 15)


“Beware the stare of Mary Shaw
She had no children, only dolls
And if you see her in your dreams
Be sure you never, ever scream,
or she will cut your tongue out by the seam.”

– The rather stretched but fairly scary poem repeated A LOT during this movie

MOSTLY SPOILER-FREE VERSION

The makers of Saw have turned out a pretty decent little horror flick here. It’s not the typical Scary Dummy movie – they actually dodge the dodgy dummy chasing people shot several times. Anyone who’s seen Anthony Hopkins in the s’okay scary movie Magic, will know how that’s usually the mark of a good horror flick.

Also, this takes the ‘freaky ventriloquist being dominated by their doll’ to a whole other level. Sadly, none of the dummies turn out to be enchanted former-demon-hunters (yay Buffy Season One!) but trust me, this film manages to make up for it.

For a start, this looks like a proper horror film. A cheap one, perhaps, but it hardly shows. The lighting is especially effective – lots of shadows, silence, and ‘uh oh’ reveals. The acting is also pretty solid, and I felt sorry for the first victim in the beginning. Although lesson learnt, people – do NOT mess with ANY creepy dummys EVER. No teasing the dummy. They’ve probably got a curse. Or at least, they’ll get you somehow. So don’t do it! Gulp.

Billy the puppet and his chums

From the very first kill, it’s also properly NASTY – mainly the aftermaths of tongues getting ripped from gaping mouths. It’s gross, but I doubt it’ll really trouble the regular horror fan. It’s very enjoyable schlock. Certainly there’s nothing as distressing here as the whole of Alien vs Predator 2, which was just…shit (nothing good happened here. I’ll go into it some time). It throws in a good human antagonist, too, in Donnie Wahlberg’s detective Jim Lipton, who understandably believes that our hero Jamie (Ryan Kwanten) killed his own wife.

Detective Lipton confronts Jamie about his wife’s death and messes with the scary dummy.
(Why the hell WOULD you? Eeeee)

Like the first Saw movie, Dead Silence gets you from Awful A to Bleak B in an interesting and occasionally unexpected way, with a few surprises and leaving a few annoying loose ends to chat about in the pub later on. Not too taxing, but certainly not insanely irritating. It’s the perfect rainy-day horror movie.

I may be biased – I have a real weakness for dumb-but-fun horror flicks. They have to actually be GOOD, though, and this delivered just what I was looking for. Good enough to provoke the occasional yelp, I can recommend this. Grim enough. This is pretty gross for a 15-rated horror flick.

Enjoy!

The twisted Mary Shaw and her creepy baby-doll Billy

SPOILER-HEAVY REVIEW

(Because I like to read about the whole story once I’ve seen the flick)

Ventriloquist dummys are frickin’ scary. So, too, are most dolls – particularly those baby-faced porcelain ones with dead glass eyes. But it doesn’t just have to be that kind of doll. When I was a young, innocent teenager, I was deeply freaked out by Chucky from Child’s Play. Something about an inanimate humanoid figure coming to life is always going to be the worst of the worst. Scary tiny puppets with knives. Yuk.

“Who’s a cute ickle dummy, den, eh? Awwww….can we keep him?”

As an extra note – the Gerry Anderson puppets don’t count. Except maybe Terrahawks. Anyway….

Now imagine that the dummy is a strangely tall old lady who’s decided to turn herself into a doll and chase after the relations of the people that burned her (it turns out, they had a good case for it). Yes, this particular ‘Scary Mary’ is a real bitch, and likes to sneak up on people til they screeeeeam. Presumably because then it’s easier to rip out their tongues

Phones 4 U Scary Mary

The OTHER scary Mary….hmmm

Keeping you suitable grossed out, and guessing along the way, I really enjoyed this slice of schlock. It twisted around the idea of the deadly dummy and freaky vengeance from beyond the grave. Our hero, Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten), doesn’t make totally dumb choices, either. He has the brains to try reburying the dummy, even though that doesn’t work.

Jamie wisely tries to put the scary-little-fucker back in the ground…

This is due to the great Detective Jim Lipton played with gleeful cynicism by Donnie Wahlberg. He dogs Jamie every step of the way, providing a little comic relief and keeping the supernatural elements more grounded. It’s always fun to see the total cynic get convinced that there ARE vicious spooks – just when it’s too late, of course.

This is a great little horror flick that’s actually had some money and care lavished upon it, but apparently didn’t do all that well at the box office. Often, it’s off the big screen where creepy flicks like this do their best work. Are you brave enough to let Mary Shaw and her doll collection into your living room? Are you gonna buy this or wait for it to turn up on Sky or terrestrial telly?

Detective Lipton (Donnie Wahlaberg) manhandles the creepy puppet again

And if you get a ventriloquist’s dummy anonymously delivered to your door, I’d take it down to the dump. Immediately. Or burn it IMMEDIATELY.

Don’t be a dummy

Confession – shrunk this pic due to scariness. There’s an even scarier one, but who wants to have a scary dead doll-lady looking back at you on the screen whilst trying to read a review?
Not meeee!

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3 thoughts on “Dead Silence (2007) Director James Wan (Cert 15)

  1. Shudder. There’s a reason things like clowns, and dolls, and ventriloquists’ dummies, give people the willies! You’re braver than me, watching this! I saw the ads on the TV when it first came out and said, no freaking way. Grin.Interesting thing about that first Chuckie movie… I remember reading that the writer or director (can’t remember which) was employed at a major studio, and they wouldn’t listen to any of his ideas…so he quit, got the movie made, and then they hired him back for a shitload of money and a corner office. Idiots could have had him for free. But you know how it goes…a prophet is without honor in his own country! 🙂P.S. I think that woman in the last picture could do with an order of Proactiv solution, don’t you…? Grin.

  2. my mate showed it to me on holiday and something about me loved it but i dont think i would watch it again especially not the unrated version sounds even scarrier more gore i think there was enough in this version lol ! i would recommend it tho it is a good film just scary i mean whats with the man and carrying the killer dummy around with him !!? but a frickin awesome film tho well done james wan !

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