Horror Movie Review: Dead Silence (2007)


“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”

If you’re the type of person that finds ventriloquist dummies terrifying then Dead Silence will do nothing but reinforce that fear in ways you wouldn’t dream of imagining. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t find ventriloquist dummies terrifying in the slightest then I dare you to watch Dead Silence and I guarantee you’ll come away with a different viewpoint.

I’m beginning to become a huge fan of director James Wan who continues to impress me with his ability to craft atmospheric horror movies that don’t simply rely on jump scares but build incredible tension surrounding their premises. If you enjoyed any of his previous movies – Insidious Chapter I & II, SAW, SAW 3 or most recently The Conjuring then I highly recommend you check this movie out or read this review preferably.

After the creepy opening credits in which we see someone crafting “the perfect doll”, we’re introduced to Jamie Ashen and his wife Lisa who are planning on having a nice evening in when they suddenly receive a knock at the door. Jamie opens the door only to find a mysterious package which we soon see contains a ventriloquist doll named, “Billy” who just so happens to be really quite freaky to look at I might add; his eyes are ridiculously life like.

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Wondering who might have sent the doll, Lisa recalls a poem about a woman named Mary Shaw (above). After questioning where the doll may have come from Jamie disregards what has happened and leaves Lisa alone with Billy so he can get them dinner. Lisa plays around with Billy for a moment but then places him onto her bed and puts a blanket over his head…all of a sudden Lisa realizes that all sound around her is disappearing until there is only, that’s right Dead Silence. Throughout the movie this is the unique way in which victims are killed, it’s certainly something I’ve never seen done before and it does an amazing job of building tension because when watching not only does everything go silent for the character but it does so for the viewer as well and its very unnerving. In her confused state Lisa makes her way back over to Billy and pulls the sheet from his head only be kicked half way across the room which causes her to literally spit blood; nasty. Jamie returns home only to find the kettle ready to explode from boiling and a blood trail leading to a figure underneath a blanket, he pulls it off and reveals Lisa who has had her tongue ripped out.

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With no idea what to do and the police believing him to be the prime suspect in Lisa’s murder case, Jamie investigates Billy and finds that he was crafted by Mary Shaw of his hometown Ravens Fair. Returning to Ravens Fair, Jamie confronts his wealthy, estranged father, Edward, about Mary Shaw. Edward is wheelchair-bound with a new wife, Ella, who takes care of him. Edward and Ella remind Jamie of the legend of Mary Shaw before he leaves in anger but not before warning Ella that his father is a monster that drove his mother to suicide and that he would do the same to her.

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After Lisa’s funeral Jamie is confronted by the mortician’s wife who implores him to bury Billy and end the curse of Mary Shaw once and for all only go be lead away by her husband Henry. Later, when things begin to get desperate for Jamie he begs Henry for information who finally gives in and tells his story which is one of my favorite moments in the movie and leads to one of my top 10 scariest horror movie moments as seen in the article on this site.

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We see flashbacks of Mary Shaw as a famous Ventriloquist who takes her work very seriously. One evening while performing on stage a young boy calls out “we can see your lips moving” this causes Mary to get very angry through Billy. The next night the same young boy goes missing and suspecting that Mary was to blame the local town’s folk took justice into their own hands and beat her only to then cut out her tongue. Before her death Mary’s final wish was to be transformed into a human dummy and buried with her children (dummies) which seeing as this is a horror movie was of course done for her without question.

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One of my favorite things about the movie is Mary Shaw herself, she’s terrifying to look at and its all good old fashioned makeup.

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After learning about the young boy, Jamie confronts his father once more and is informed that the boy was his great-uncle. The men involved in killing Shaw were then killed off one by one, found with their tongues ripped out. Their wives, children, and children’s children all suffered the same fate; Edward deliberately drove Jamie away to spare him, but Shaw will now come back for them. While all this is going on Jamie is pursued by Lipton, an eccentric police officer who is determined to prove that Jamie killed Lisa. He gets a call from Lipton who tells Jamie that Shaw’s puppets are all missing from their graves. Jamie then receives a phone call from Henry, telling him to go to the theatre in which Mary used to perform to meet him. In truth Henry has been murdered by Mary Shaw when searching for his wife after yelling at her for talking to Billy.

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If you want to know what happens from there then I highly recommend watching the movie as there is a huge twist that is seriously unexpected, honestly you won’t see it coming.

In my opinion Dead Silence is a throwback to the golden age of horror movies. It’s dark, atmospheric, builds tension, has a unique premise, has memorable eerie moments and is just downright creepy as a whole. There is a decent amount of gore on display here as well which is nice because it’s not overdone or anything. The story is intriguing enough and I’m happy that it ends in the way that it does.  A few things I really didn’t like were that the movie sort of lets itself down with some really cheap CGI effects used at times near the end and it just looked awful. Also, Jamie’s character acts rather unrealistically most of the movie and doesn’t seem too phased by anything at all; the man has nerves of steel.

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This is the kind of movie that many critics will hate but go into watching it with no expectations and sit back and enjoy and I guarantee it will be one of those movies that you think about when you’re alone in the house and whatever you do, don’t scream.

There just aren’t enough horror films these days about menacing old ventriloquist ladies that are buried with their creepy dolls, who have come back from the dead to seek vengeance on the families that put her in the grave, by tearing out their tongues, such a shame.

Dead Silence
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    The Final Score - 8/10
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