“Dead Silence (2007)” – Review

WARING!
HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!

A man searching for his wife’s murderer uncovers a curse with his name on it in the form of a ventriloquist doll.

This came oh so very close.

A part of what made Dead Silence work, at least for me, is the doll. Dolls can be scary, scary things. Think Talking Tina from the classic Twilight Zone episode “Living Doll”. Here was something saying horrible things she shouldn’t be saying, appearing where she shouldn’t. Creepy, creepy stuff.

So creepy, in fact, I have a hard time watching Rocky and Bullwinkle.

Seriously, guys. And Granny from those Tweety Cartoons? S-C-A-R-Y.

The story itself is decent enough, I suppose, to a point. It kept me tense for the most part, and that deserves some props. After all, that’s what a Horror story should do. Unsettle.

On this, to my knowledge, there are no real screw ups here, again, to a point. The cop character doesn’t act like a cop, and one character really, really should have known better than to… Well, it’s not important.

Also the rules of the game aren’t quite clear. It’s not a killer. I can live with what I got.

In fact, most of the way through, I kept comparing it to the Silent Hill series, and not in an unfavorable light. Both have protagonists running around dead towns looking for answers that, in the end, they really don’t want to have. That my response while watching this was “Damn, I should be playing Silent Hill right now” shouldn’t reflect on the film itself, as I have that feeling all the time.

Like right now, in fact.

Damn it. Why am I at this Devil Box when…? Never mind.

One of Dead Silence‘s major failings it that it’s too stylish. And I’m saying this as a fan of Japanese Horror flicks. Too stylish by far.

For instance is a montage of scenes that, at the end of each section, zooms into the character’s eye. The pupil vanishes and we zoom into the next scene. Oh so arty.

And then there’s the odd transitions. We see Our Hero drive up to this bridge outside the town of his birth. The camera pulls to one side to show a sign giving us the village name and a painting of the same bridge. It then fades into a shot of the bridge identical to the one on the sign, with Our Hero now across the bridge.

I know there’s a simpler way of explaining that. It’s just not coming.

What happens is that the director spends too much time trying to show us how cool he is, and it just doesn’t wash.

(It probably doesn’t help that I had just finished watching Targets, a movie that had arty touches galore and yet managed to tell a compelling, even frightening story.)

Ignoring this, Dead Silence has a decent story that pulls you along nicely.

Up to a point.

Which is the ending.

I did mention Spoilers, right?

Good. Just checking.

Though right now I’m irritated enough to not care.

It’s not bad enough that we have stylish crap out the wazoo. Oh no. We also have a little “mystery” to deal with here too! Who brought Our Hero the doll in the first place?

Let’s think about it, shall we?

Is it:

  1. The mortician, who in one scene is visibly shocked to see the horror begin again?
  2. The mortician’s wife, who is suffering from dementia?
  3. Our Hero’s Father, who is suffering from a stroke and can’t leave his chair?
  4. Our Hero’s New Stepmother, who acts ever so oddly from the moment we see her?

If you said #1, I’m embarrassed to know you.

No, it’s pretty obvious our suspect is the Stepmother. She is just too… odd.

So we wait to find out just what our Stepmother is up to. And wait. And wait. To the point where an attempt to divert attention to Our Hero’s Father is a bit insulting, but not terrible.

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