Dead Silence 2007 movie

Dead Silence – The scary killer puppets of James Wan

Many of you may prefer James Wan since he changed genres to blockbusters like Fast & Furious or Aquaman, but still, I tremendously miss his fantastic horror stories like this spectacular 2007 movie, Dead Silence.

Working with outstanding colleague Leigh Whannell, Wan tells us the story of Jamie, a guy who abandoned his wealthy family many years earlier and now enjoys a quiet life with his beautiful wife, Lisa.

The couple doesn’t have a single worry in the world, and Lisa is also expecting a baby until one day, they receive a mysterious package with no sender’s indication, containing a ventriloquist doll named Billy.

Unfortunately, Jamie is just in time to buy food and come home before finding Lisa brutally murdered in the bedroom with her tongue ripped out.

At the police station, Detective Jim Lipton has no other suspects besides him, but lacking evidence, he must release him, so he decides to return to his hometown and investigate where the doll came from.

Indeed, ever since he was a child, everyone knew the horrifying story of Mary Shaw, a ventriloquist slaughtered by the townspeople many years earlier, after they falsely accused her of kidnapping a child who had been sassy during one of her shows.

Before dying, the dark lady swore she would return for revenge, not only against her persecutors but also made to pay off their entire families.

Moreover, on his way home, Jamie finally gets a chance to reunite with his father, Edward, now confined to a wheelchair after a tough illness.

Descending into the spiral of Mary Shaw’s curse, Jamie will discover that secrets lie beneath that madness, even worse than he could have imagined.

A classic style with something different

James Wan and Leigh Whannell work together in a fruitful partnership, creating an emotionally dark horror novel with a constant sinister atmosphere.

The unusual theme of ventriloquist puppets is intriguing right from the start, turning an innocent child’s game into something terrifying.

At the movie’s heart lies a single refrain:

Beware the stare of Mary Shaw. She had no children, only dolls. If you see her in your dreams, be sure you never, ever scream, or she’ll rip your tongue out at the seam.

Simple words for a constant fear envelop the protagonists, forcing them to remain silent and not scream since Shaw’s curse fulfills when someone shouts, and then she kills them.

Puppets and ventriloquism become the fulcrum around which the tension builds in each scene. The director skillfully uses any trick craft to create a time suspension for a dark fairy tale that could be set even a thousand years ago.

Dead Silence is a classic movie with long scenes full of anticipation, alternating with faster editing with well-dosed jumpscare fitting with 2007.

It relies not only on sudden fright to destabilize viewers but instead on a feeling of alienation from reality, where it creeps into the plot of vengeful ghosts with an ironic edge.

Unfortunately, the directors would later take different paths: Whannell opting for low-budget action/sci-fi movies such as Upgrade or The Invisible Man, while Wan would go for big productions, although he returned to his genre with Malignant in 2021, an old-fashioned horror film albeit affected by blockbuster action beats.

However, he will soon return to the profitable Aquaman franchise, with the second chapter planned for the Christmas holidays in 2023. Will this be the definitive ending of the director’s happy marriage with horror?

More narrative purpose than real characters?

Who are the characters in this story?

Honestly, each actor seems to have more of a task than a well-defined role, almost as if they too were puppets under the command of this horror flick.

Indeed, none stand out for any particular personality trait but more for their narrative function, starting from the protagonist Ryan Kwanten that is clearly our guide in this strange world, the lost young man who returns to his home only to discover that it is a trap.

Right from the start, in fact, we notice something sinister, which we cannot explain, in his strange father, Bob Gunton, and the young stepmother who is the beautiful Amber Valletta, both standing still on the stairs waiting for him amid the eerie pictures hanging on the walls.

Oddly enough, the performance that won me the most was the shortest, the protagonist’s hapless girlfriend, played by Laura Regan, who stands out in a fast-paced, bizarre, and funny relationship that unfortunately ends a few minutes after it begins.

Donnie Wahlberg, on the other hand, is the funny moment that serves to lighten the tensions, as the tough but also somewhat stupid policeman; who does not want to believe the horror in front of his nose until the last moment, when even his truculent death occurs in an almost comical way.

Finally, one cannot miss the ruthless Mary Shaw, played by Judith Roberts, who is the monster stalker of all the other characters as this strange lady obsessed with puppets to the point of wanting to create one in the flesh.

For my part, I found even more disturbing the various flashbacks where the actress played Shaw when she was still alive, rather than in the role of the ghost operating the puppets, which instead remains an almost invisible presence throughout.

What else to say about this 2007 movie except that Dead Silence is a refreshing bucket of blood in the face for all horror fans? Probably fans of the genre or of James Wan already know it well, while to all others who have yet to discover it, I wish them to have fun and put their hand in front of their mouth before screaming, just in case!

Dead Silence 2007 movie
Amazon Prime Video
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