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Carl the Critic: Talks about "Dead Silence" [Caution: Contains Plot Spoilers]

Updated on December 19, 2014

"Dead Silence" Movie Poster

"Dead Silence"

"Dead Silence"

Expierence/Expectations: As a child I had a phobia of dolls. My mother told me that if a doll winks at you, you will die in a fortnight. I was so scared I didn't want to look at them for a long time! When did I stop being scared of dolls? Sometime between puberty, and the release of "Dead Silence", one of the movies responsible for the rape and murdered of some of my correspondence family members (based on the way they tearfully email me asking me to tear this piece of s(p)it.)
Directed by James Wan, the cinematic "genius" behind such films as "Saw" and "Insidious". This is all I really need to say about this movie: "James Wan", a name that brings either a sense of hope that this will be a good movie or a sense of shame, and disgust. You either like him, hate him, or have no idea who he is.

I for one liked both "Saw" and "Insidious" but that doesn't mean they weren't without their faults. And if Rotten Tomatoes is to be believed, "Dead Silence" is "undone by boring characters, bland dialogue, and an... obvious twist ending." Oh goodie let's get started.

Story: Jamie Ashen comes home to find his underdeveloped love interest has suffered from a bad case dead. I say a bad case because not only is she dead, she has no tongue in her mouth, and a look on her face that suggest that who ever took it was "scary".
Jamie is then "interrogated" by Mark Wahlberg's younger brother, who believes Jamie had something to do with the murder of his wife, because he is a husband, and husbands are second only to the butler on the list of prime suspects. But Jamie is convinced that a ventriloquist dummy has something to with the murder of his wife and can not believe that Mark Walhberg's brother doesn't understand that the doll is the obvious killer...
So Jamie goes to his hometown of Raven's Fair to talk to his father (for some reason) and bury his wife. It doesn't really make sense that Jamie would talk to his father mainly because he hasn't spoken to him in years because apparently Jamie's Father drove his wife to kill herself. In fact when Jamie goes to visit his father, he is on his third wife, a relatively young wife, one who has the stench of innocence wafting around her. She seems to be too perfect, always adjusting her husbands wheelchair for some reason... Oh yeah Jamie's father had a stroke and Jamie is briefly stunned that he is just learned about it now.
Jamie then suddenly realizes strange events happening and people in Raven's Fair who know something about a woman named Mary Shaw.

Critique: Mary Shaw isn't a very good ventriloquist (hardly anyone in the film knows what ventriloquism is, because they move their lips.) The idea of ventriloquism is to NOT MOVE YOU LIPS!
The dummy's themselves don't look very creepy, they don't do anything but jump scares. Suddenly a doll turns it head and looks at you hoping that you scream. Because if you scream that means Mary Shaw pops up and rips the tongue out of your mouth. I don't know why anyone would scream if they saw Mary, she looks just about as scary to me as a clown wearing old women's clothing. There was one time a character just screamed for no reason, he just saw Mary staring at him with her creepy, puppy dog eyes, and he paused for 2 second before he remember, "Oh yeah. I'm supposed to scream now right?"
The movie tries to be scary but its almost hilarious. The things that it tries to do to be scary are really just stupid things like jump scares, having a shot of Mary putting her hand on a bit of wood as if to say "Hey, I'm here! I'm here everyone! Look look! can you see my hand!? Good, because we wouldn't want this movie to be SCARY would we?" but the biggest offenders of jump scares are the dolls themselves. They don't really scare you, they just turn their head or eyes to stare at you awkwardly as if to say "LOOK AT ME DAMN IT! I'M SUPPOSE TO SCARE YOU NOW!"

But the ending is the thing that fascinates me. So here come the SPOILERS!

Jamie finds out that Mary Shaw is getting revenge on all the people who ripped her tongue out, especially Jamie's family because his uncle Ashen was being like one of those trolls on Youtube, who say "This is fake and gay!" Oh and apparently sometimes ventriloquist need "existing parts" to make a doll... Um- are you saying that dolls can be made from "non existing parts?" What is an "existing" part? I believe they are referring to "human" parts which would make more sense, considering that Mary Shaw kills Jamie's Uncle Ashen, and turns his corpse in a fully functional mechanical doll.
But then why did she kill Jamie's wife?... Because Jamie married her! And that's all we'll say about that!

Jamie also realizes that he needs to kill all the dolls in order to stop the curse of Mary Shaw. But upon trying to destroy all the dolls, he comes to discover something "shocking". And here is the major SPOILER!
Jamie's father has been dead the entire movie, but more than that, he was the perfect dummy the whole time... Yeah, and the innocent wife who was half his age... I think she's either a dummy or the living embodiment of Mary Shaw, the movie just assumes that you know.

And Jamie is finally killed off, because he is such a twat! In fact I think almost everyone in the film is dead with the exception of Marion Walker, the wife of the caretaker, Henry Walker, who's been crazy the entire movie.

And thus we conclude the film, "Dead Silence", it's stupid, poorly written, edited, and acted. But I can't stop watching this movie because if truth be told, I actually like it.

This film is an extremely guilty pleasure of mine. I know it's bad, but I can't help myself.
The thing that really sells it for me is the atmosphere. The movie has great shots of creepy places that Jamie finds himself: A creepy Mansion, an abandon theater, a cemetery, the woods, a mortuary, and a creepy motel. But it does feel like the film knows it does atmosphere well and little else so it has to figure out another reason why Jamie should go to the woods or an abandon theater. Also, the music fits the film very well with the film, and I was impressed with John R. Leonetti's camera work in this film (too bad he didn't do a good job in "Insidious").

Overall: My recommendation for "Dead Silence" is not really a strong one, unless you are die hard James Wan fan. The film has quite a few plot holes, isn't very scary, poorly acted, poorly written, but has a great atmosphere, music, and cinematography. So I give it a 5.0 out of 10.


Hey Guys! I recently realized I made a mistake in this review, and because it has been getting more and more popular lately (thank you Pintrest) I decided to address it!

In this review I said "But then why did she kill Jamie's wife?... Because Jamie married her! And that's all we'll say about that!" This is actually not right. The reason why Mary killed Jamie's wife was actually because she was pregnant with Jamie's child. Because Jamie is the last Ashen in the bloodline, Mary wanted to prevent any more Ashens from being born.

If I have made any other mistakes in my other reviews please let me know.

What about you?

If you saw "Dead Silence", what did you think?

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"Dead Silence" on Bluray and DVD


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    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 2 years ago

      Hey Ari, Thank you for your comment. I see we do definitely disagree on a number of things about the film but you know what it's okay. This is what makes movies art, the fact that many people can look at the same thing and draw different ideas or feelings from it. I still enjoy the film (even after all these years since I wrote this article). I'm glad you enjoyed the film, I hope you at least enjoyed reading my article, and thank you for the comment :)

    • profile image

      Ari 2 years ago

      Actually, I couldn't disagree with you more. I think this is one of the best horror movies ever: it's my personal favorite. It's not stupid, and the performances are rather good, with the possible exception of Donnie Wahlberg. But even he is good. As for the young wife, it's pretty obvious that she is a reincarnation of Mary Shaw. They explain pretty well why she's killing off all the Ashens in existence, and the dolls are creepy indeed. The ending is actually very surprising; not at all expected.

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 3 years ago

      Hey UndercoverAgent19! Thanks for your comment. Sorry I took so long to reply!

    • UndercoverAgent19 profile image

      Jen Corrigan 4 years ago

      I love how terrible this movie is. I have a wee touch of automanophobia, so this movie is inherently scary to me. However, it's also so bad that it's hilarious. It definitely is a guilty pleasure for me, also.

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      Yeah, "Insidious" is another example of not really being scary, but I still enjoyed it as well. "Dead Silence" doesn't really have a good story, but I just can't stop watching it because something about the overall look of the film that feels right :) Thank you for commenting Amy, great to hear from you.

    • AmyBigmore profile image

      AmyBigmore 6 years ago

      I watched Insidious yesterday and it lacked that horrific element that Saw had. It was very theatrical which I kind of liked though. I think if people watch his films expecting Saw's level of horror they will be dissapointed but his devotion to telling a good story seems to be present in Saw and Insidious. I'm looking forward to seeing Dead Silence now!