-Written by Robert O’ Doherty
Director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell teamed up to bring us the successful Saw back in 2004 and last year the same pair brought us Insidious; a film I found so awfully bad, I cried with laughter. Flashback to 2007, where the duo would unite to bring us Dead Silence.
I really don’t know where to begin with this film because it’s a concoction of peculiar scenes. Actually, that reminds me, this flick does a terrible reimagining of the classic Universal logo from the 1930’s before the opening credits hit; what’s was the point? The opening credits could’ve had an eerie presence to it, but it’s overlaid by a generic ”horror” score and ”scary” fonts. I kinda guess this sums the film up nicely. Instead of playing a smart and mysterious story that let’s the audience think – like Childs Play – Wan and Whannell go for the ”LOOK AT US BEING SCARY AND IN YOUR FACE”.
I guess I’ll try make the plot as simple as I can. A young married couple receives a mysterious box sent to their door, containing a doll. Lisa(Laura Regan) is stupidly trilled about it, unlike her husband Jamie(Ryan Kwanten), who is very wary about the whole situation. Kinda nice to see a role reversal as we often see the male character as the joker-type. Jamie leaves to buy a take-away(ever heard of delivery?) while Lisa does some shit around the house as she chats to the doll. You know where this is going right? Yep, Lisa dies, in a Saw editing like fashion, meaning you can’t see shit. Jamie returns home and gets brought in for questioning by the coppers.
Enter Donnie Wahlberg as Detective Jim Lipton. Lipton is a sarcastic, jerk who constantly shaves with an electric razor in almost every seen. You see, each character has bizarre traits, from a deranged woman who strokes a dead crow, to Jamie’s eccentric father; he lives in a mansion in location that resembles Racoon City. These characters are so absurd and bland, that there’s no opening for you to care or relate to them. While Jamie is fairly normal, he is a bit of a dumbass. If you believe a doll murdered your wife, you don’t sleep in the same room as it in a sleazy hotel, you burn that thing and never look back. He also tends to leave the doll in certain places and drives off without it, forgetting that this thing murdered his loved one and could murder the people he leaves the doll around; which happens by the way. I could continue on about things that don’t make sense, like, why Jamie doesn’t have any interaction with Lisa’s family or why the police left the doll at the crime scene; it is evidence after all!
If you haven’t seen Dead Silence, I’m guessing you think I summed up the plot…well guess again. You see a ventriloquist, Mary Shaw, created the doll and a whole bunch of others. She never had kids and so, she treated these wooden puppets as her own. When she died, she requested to look like a doll herself and wanted to be buried with her ”children”. She now uses the dolls as a means to kill. I have a headache right now, I honestly do. I will say this, when we get a flashback scene to the origins of Mary Shaw, it almost plays like a short little film that’s shot quite nicely. The rest of Dead Silence looks like crap; blue filter with high saturated reds in about every scene with camera work, editing, music, acting and directing, that all blows chunks.
There’s is a reason why this film is awful, you see, Leigh Whannell wrote about Dead Silence on his blog with the title, ”Dud Silence: The Hellish Experience Of Making A Bad Horror Film”. Whannell wrote:
”After everything is said and done, I’m almost glad ‘Dead Silence’ happened, because it gave me an extreme, coal-face lesson in what not to do. It was like learning to swim by leaping off Niagara Falls. I only write scripts on spec now, which means that I write them in my own time without getting paid and then take them out into the world to see if anyone’s interested. Never again will I enter the arranged marriage of selling a pitch. I have also become very gun-shy about working with studios. In the world of independent film, what you write ends up on screen. Plus, they don’t have the money to bring in script doctors! Works fine for me. Who knows, maybe one day I will work with a studio again…”
Man, if only I came across this before I bought this film….fuck!