Every town has its own ghost story, and a local folktale around Ravens Fair is about a ventriloquist named Mary Shaw. After she went mad in the 1940s, she was accused of kidnapping a young boy who yelled out in one of her performances that she was a fraud. Because of this she was hunted down by townspeople who in the ultimate act of revenge, cut out her tongue and then killed her. They buried her along with her "children," a handmade collection of vaudeville dolls, and assumed they had silenced her forever. However, Ravens Fair has been plagued by mysterious deaths around them after Mary Shaws collection has returned from their graves and have come to seek revenge on people that killed her and their families. Far from the pall of their cursed hometown, newlyweds Jamie and Lisa Ashen thought they had established a fresh start, until Jamie's wife is grotesquely killed in their apartment. Jamie returns to Ravens Fair for the funeral, intent on unraveling the mystery of Lisa's death. Once...Written by
"Dead Silence" is a movie that I had been highly anticipating ever since I saw the trailer for it. I just got back from seeing it and I wasn't disappointed at all. The film follows Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten), who, after receiving a mysterious puppet, returns home to find his wife, Lisa (Laura Regan) murdered. With a detective (Donnie Wahlberg) convinced he is the murderer, Jamie returns to his childhood town of Raven's Fair, where a legendary ghost story is told. The story is about a woman named Mary Shaw, a ventriloquist who was murdered after being suspected of murder. She was buried with her massive amount of dolls and puppets as well. After her death, it seems she has been taking revenge on the townspeople, when numerous families are found dead with their tongues missing. Jamie takes it upon himself to solve the legend and curse before he becomes the next victim.
Directed/co-written by James Wan and written by Leigh Whannell, the men who brought us the successful "Saw" series, are also behind this splendidly spooky horror film. Originality is a hard thing to find in the horror genre these days, but this film manages to sluff off most of the typical horror set-ups and create an interesting and compelling story. This is quite a turn around from the "Saw" franchise, which, while it is a good series, has become more of a gore fest than anything. On the other hand, "Dead Silence" is a supernatural horror film with a very well written story. Character development is strong, and the acting helps that out as well, which is always a plus. Ryan Kwanten, an Australian actor, plays the lead role and is very believable. Donnie Wahlberg (of "Saw II" and "Saw III") plays a skeptical detective, and Amber Valetta ("What Lies Beneath") plays Jamie's new stepmother. All of the acting was really believable, I didn't see any below-average performing here.
Puppets and ventriloquism are main themes in the plot, which might sound a little clichéd. I suppose it is, puppets and dolls have become almost a joke in the genre because they are so over-used (as well as creepy little children, among other things), but since they are in the core basis of the plot, they actually come off as being scary. People who have that fear of dolls and/or puppets would be advised to steer clear of this film. There is some great sets in the film as well. The entire town of Raven's Fair has a heavily Gothic tone to it, almost to the point of complete surrealism. The sets are spooky and appropriately so, because it really adds the atmosphere of the movie. The villain/ghostly ventriloquist Mary Shaw, was actually quite terrifying. Her makeup effects made her one creepy looking woman. As for the gore, those expecting anything close to the over-abundance of violence in the "Saw" films will be disappointed. This film doesn't contain much gore - it has a little, but it doesn't use typical violence and graphic gore to get some scares out of the audience. I loved the way the movie ended as well. It's a twist-ending, but don't let that put you off - it works well with the rest of the movie, it's not one of those "bad movie twists". It was very unexpected and very well-written.
Overall, "Dead Silence" is a refreshing, semi-unique horror movie. The storyline is original enough, and the creepy themes and atmospheric setting add to its overall effect. Don't expect a gore fest though, because the violence is pretty tame compared to what you'd see in the "Saw" films. If you like James Wan and Leigh Whannell's work, I'd really recommend seeing this - it's a pleasant change from your typical horror films, and a nice change of pace from their previous work. It has a few flaws here and there, but it's such an enjoyable movie that all of that is forgivable in the end. Very refreshing. 9/10.
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