Beware the stare of Mary Shaw
She had no children only dolls
And if you see her in your dreams
Be sure to never ever scream.
One day Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten) gets this package with a ventriloquist's dummy named Billy and by the time he gets back from having gone out he finds his wife, Lisa (Laura Regan), is dead. Not only is she dead, but she is missing her tongue. If you can connect the dots between Lisa's death and the above rhyme then you can tell where "Dead Silence" is going. Jamie brings Laura back to their hometown of Ravens Fair, even though that means seeing his father, Edward Ashen (Bob Gunton) and his latest trophy wife, Ella (Amber Valletta). Tagging along is Detective Jim Lipton (Donnie Wahlberg), who thinks Jamie is the primary suspect in his wife's death and wants to keep an eye on him. Meanwhile, Jamie is trying to find out more about this whole Mary Shaw think from Henry Walker (Michael Fairman), the local undertaker.
"Dead Silence" is made by director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell, the same team that came up with the Saw Trilogy. It came out in March of this year, although I do not remember hearing about it and doubt that it made it to this neck of the woods. I happened to see "Dead Silence" the same day I saw a wretched rip-off of "Saw," so to see a horror film that actually looked good was quite refreshing and I was rather encouraged. However, this is probably not the first horror story you have seen involving a ventriloquist's dummy and style can only take you so far in this genre.
The problem is connecting to the story and I think this film starts to get off track when they try to rhyme "Shaw" with "dolls." I mean, I have no problem with scant rhyme, but this is not even close to being in the ballpark. After the death of his wife, Jamie is the prime suspect in the mind of Detective Lipton (a nod to Wahlberg's role in "Band of Brothers
"?), but in the day and age of what is called "The C.S.I. Effect," it should be obvious that Jamie did not do it. He might have hired somebody to do it, but clearly the blood on him would have come from finding his wife dead, as he claims, and not from being there when she was being murdered. So I was starting to disconnect from the story at that point, especially since Lipton is required to given Jamie enough rope to hang himself, which, of course, he uses instead to discover the horrible truth.
Beyond the nice production values here, the best part of this movie is Judith Roberts as Mary Shaw when we finally get to go back to the past and see her do her act. I am not sure if her big line is really that much better than the rhyme they come up with for Mary Shaw, but damn, Roberts knows how to deliver it for what might be the best chill in the whole movie. But by the time you get to the film's end game you just are not invested in the outcome. This is one of those films where they do a nice job of setting up the reveal at the end, which is certainly not surprising with Wan and Whannell involved, but I find it difficult to muster much enthusiasm for it. All things considered, "Dead Silence" does this type of horror film by the numbers, but it just does not add up to a "must see" film for fans. I do not think that you will be bitterly disappointed if you check it out. I just think you not end up being as impressed as you think you should be.