Dead Silence

October 2, 2016 at 5:21 pm (8 Heads, Dead Silence) (, , , , , )

Dead Silence – 2007 – United States

A young couple mysteriously receives a puppet (named Billy) in the mail. That night, the husband (Jamie) returns home to find his wife dead with her tongue torn out. He relates the murder and the puppet to the legend of a ghostly ventriloquist from his hometown of Ravens Fair. Jamie drives (his bitchin’ red muscle car) to Ravens Fair to investigate. Having been away for many years, he discovers that the town has become a decrepit ruin. His estranged father has been paralyzed by a stroke, and has a new (much younger) wife. The superstitious townies refuse to discuss the ghostly ventriloquist, but numerous tongue-less corpses have been attributed to her haunting. Meanwhile, a police detective suspects Jamie for his wife’s murder, and Jamie is tormented by Billy, the diabolic puppet.

Dead Silence is a spooky and gruesome horror story full of weird characters, gory set pieces, and macabre touches. The town of Ravens Fair and its residents have lots of personality. Ravens Fair is full of condemned buildings and is enclosed by overgrown woods. Jamie’s family lives in an antiquated mansion. On the edge of town is the dilapidated Guignol Theater, built in the middle of a lake. There is also a cool vintage motel.

Dead Silence’s oddball characters fit perfectly in their decaying surroundings. Jamie’s wheelchair-bound father is cold and awkward, and Jamie’s beautiful stepmother is too welcoming to be sincere. Jamie’s father has had his ex-wives carefully painted out of all the family portraits. There is also a kindly undertaker, and his crazy wife who keeps a dead pet bird and hides in a crawlspace. The cynical police detective follows Jamie and badgers him. He constantly shaves with an electric razor. In one scene, he talks through the puppet Billy to interrogate Jamie.

Dead Silence was written by Leigh Whannell and directed by James Wan. This writer/director team also created Saw (2004), which features another creepy puppet. Dead Silence is a well-made film with a big budget look. There is lots of slick shooting and editing, and the understated special effects are good. The atmospheric sound effects bear mentioning, especially the sound of creaking and cracking wood as the puppet moves.

Rating: 8/10 Shrunken Heads. The twist ending is surprising and grisly.

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