US 2007, 91m, Universal Pictures
Blu-Ray: Universal (UK), Cert 15
When Jamie and Lisa Ashen receive a mysterious ventriloquist's dummy in the post, and Lisa is brutally murdered shortly after, Jamie (Ryan Kwanten) suspects the two events are linked and heads back to his home town in search of answers, pursued by a police detective (Donnie Wahlberg). A local legend there tells of Mary Shaw, a ventriloquist who was said to have gone mad after the disappearance of a small boy, and was buried with her vast collection of vaudeville dolls...
It's not that Dead Silence is a bad film by any means, it simply misses every opportunity to be a great film. The shock moments fall flat, the comedy-cop routine of Donnie Wahlberg is critically misjudged, and all concerned pull of the somewhat difficult feat of failing to make an array of ventriquilists dummies anywhere near sinister enough. The movie wallows in the template established by films like Dead Of Night and Magic without ever understanding what made them so effective. Worst of all, like many major studio horror films of the last 15-20 years, it spends too much effort on trying to be cinematically clever, when a more down-to-earth approach might have paid dividends. The now de rigeur CGI effects are simply not scary.
There are also some baffling lapses in logic. Ask yourself: If you thought a dummy might be responsible for your wife's death, would you drive along with it sitting upright in the passenger seat, right next to you? No, me neither.
Still, on the plus side there is a very pleasing look to the film (slightly fairytale/nightmarish), and a couple of interesting (if underdeveloped) ideas floating around. In the final analysis, Dead Silence was an enjoyable enough way of passing a Friday night-in, but frustrating in equal measure. Whilst not a complete waste of time, it equally isn't worth going out of your way for.
Original Theatrical Trailer: