Review: Dead Silence is Freakin' Scary!
by Josh Green
March 17, 2007
Dead Silence is the second film directed by James Wan and written by Leigh Whannell, the deadly duo who brought us the first Saw film. It's been over 3 years since his directorial debut and resulting immediate cult status in the horror genre, and many have been eagerly waiting for his next project. This is going to be a really hard review to write because I don't want to give anything away, but let me tell you, it's one hell of a ride!
Dead Silence focuses on Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten), a recent widower who returns to his hometown of Raven's Fair to investigate the mysterious and brutal murder of his wife. He is accompanied by a ventriloquist doll that was left on his front door before his wife died. When he reaches his home town, he starts to unravel a deep secrete about the town's old ventriloquist performer named Mary Shaw, who's ghost story is used to scare children. While the plot might not be the most original or believable, and some sequences can be slightly predictable, Dead Silence offers more genuine scares than Wan's Saw.
Wan learned from the biggest mistake he made in Saw and found better actors this time around. Ryan Kwanten is able to give a very believable performance as his character makes his way through the town's secrets. Donnie Walhberg is funny as the police offer assigned to follow Kwanten's character to the dark town. Overall, the performances are exactly on key with the tone and feel of the film, giving the audience the realism in the otherwise unreal and horrifying story.
Now down to the reason why this film really works. Without giving too much away, the film has a great gimmick, and it's perfect. You know when something scary is going to happen, and it delivers. There are so many suspenseful and genuinely disturbing scenes in the movie. Even if you don't think dolls are scary, there are so many more elements in the film that generate an outstanding atmosphere that only a true Universal monster movie could. Authentically so, since Universal is the studio to distribute this movie.
Finally, I really connected with Dead Silence because of the film's lack of gore. Shocking I know. Wan is able to pull off brilliant scares, avoiding the least amount of gratuitous gore as he can - and the film doesn't need it. So many horror films are about nothing but gore - it's the aspect that gets audiences to see the film. Wan avoids this, boldly, and creates a horror film that anyone looking for a fun time and some screams will love.
Dead Silence is not perfect, but it puts Saw back in the bathroom as far as horror films go. This is homage to true horror films like The Exorcist and Magic. I know that it's too early in the year to state what the best horror film of the year is, but as far as I'm concerned, Dead Silence is officially at the top of my list. James Wan and Leigh Whannell make a great team, and two for two isn't bad. Do yourself a favor and see Dead Silence, but remember, don't scream!