DIRECTOR: James Wan
CAST: Ryan Kwanten, Amber Valetta, Donnie Wahlberg
PLOT: Ventriloquist returns from the grave for revenge
I suspect DEAD SILENCE is something of an overlooked film, a sleeper perhaps. I thank director Dustin Wayde Mills’ post on Facebook for reminding me of its existence and praising it in terms that compelled me to revisit the film, most of which I’d forgot. It’s a first class slow burn supernatural horror film about revenge from the grave. Even if ventriloquist dummies don’t make you squirm, this is a fine fear film about a cursed town, the angry ghost of an old woman ventriloquist, creepy and animate dolls and such. It’s also a mystery. Why does the young man in the lead role lose his wife to the vengeful dead bitch who leaves her victims sans tongues and gape-mouthed. Her “children” are her necessary helpers, necessary for reasons I’ll leave unspoken in case any reader has yet to see this worthy film and intends to do so. I encourage you to see this. The denouement, revealing motivations and reasons, the nature of the dummies’ relationship with the hag specter, is gripping and horrifying and plunges into grotesqueries without resorting to torture porn prurience (about which I do not speak ill). And lucky you, the viewer does not have to wait til the end to find out what happened to all those tongues. Lest this sound rather morbid – it is, but classily so. The gore is, relatively speaking, low key, and serves only to punctuate the suspenseful tension generated by the rich atmosphere and driving mystery. And I can’t end without mentioning how enriching Donnie Wahlberg’s performance is here, despite his auxiliary role. It’s a seriously supporting role, not a walk-on. Wahlberg is a good actor – see his turn in Dreamcatcher, one of the best parts of the movie – and he delivers his crusty cop with enough zest to fill out the threads but not so much that teeth marks get left behind. And without being comic relief, he provides some anyway. DEAD SILENCE is a captivating piece of supernatural thrilling, with good yarn-spinning, solid characters and enough mood to drape around a Hammer film.
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