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4.0 out of 5 stars
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4.0 out of 5 stars
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Having watched the movie and the numerous extras I've got to say It's not a bad movie, it's just that it doesn't live up to a five star rating.
The banner headline on the DVD "From the creators of Saw" looks like it is purely there to grab in an audience that may have missed it first time round, sadly it lacks the visceral punch that Saw had and despite the "creators" telling us they wanted an "artfully done, beautiful" original movie what we get is a reasonably made horror movie with plenty elements borrowed from other movies, most notably Nightmare on Elm Street; including the story of a suspected child killer being punished by the aggrieved townsfolk, the dream elements and, of course, a nursery rhyme.
"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.", which sadly pales beside the Freddy Krueger rhyme.
However, the movie is not all bad, the opening scenes are pretty well handled as a young couple Jamie and Lisa receive a strange gift, a dummy looking not unlike the doll from Dead of Night (1945). When Jamie returns with a take away he finds his wife has been brutally murdered, enter police detective Lipton (Donnie Wahlberg) who isn't convinced by Jamie's tale of a murdering puppet.
Finding a connection between the doll and his hometown of Ravens Fair and an infamous female ventriloquist, Jamie returns to his home to visit his father, who is now confined to a wheelchair and has a much younger wife (Amber Valletta). Jamie starts to uncover the secrets behind the legend of Mary Shaw, under the watchful eye of Det. Lipton who still believes Jamie murdered his wife. Throw in a mad old woman who knows more than she lets on, a fog shrouded cemetery, 101 puppets (including the Jigsaw doll from Saw) and the reason why silence is the best defence.
There's a couple of twists at the end and plenty extras including deleted scenes, alternate opening and closing scenes and a short "making of" documentary with an almost unhealthy dose of back-slapping.
I never quite warmed to the perpetually wide-eyed lead Jamie (Ryan Kwanten) but Donnie Wahlberg is excellent as is Joan Heney as Marion, the mad old woman but the evil Mary Shaw herself, although she looks effective, could have done with a few lessons in menace from the Woman in Black.
I'll definitely be watching it again.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 March 2012
Raven's Fair-A Quiet Place To Live.

Dead Silence is directed by James Wan and written by Leigh Whannell. It stars Ryan Kwanten, Amber Valletta, Donnie Wahlberg, Bob Gunton and Judith Roberts. Music is by Charlie Clouser and cinematography by John R. Leonetti.

"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"

Autonomatonophobia-Fear of ventriloquist's dummies, animatronic creatures, wax statues - anything that falsely represents a sentient being.

The Autonomatonophobia angle is important in the context of how much you enjoy/get scared by Wan and Whannell's first venture out of the Saw franchise they created. On that level, along with a sprinkle of menacing clown play for the Coulrophobic, Dead Silence knocks it out of the park. The imagery of freaky dolls and dummies is excellently handled by Wan, who along with his deft knack for spooky atmospherics and setting of a scene, shows a gushing obligation to chill his viewers. Production design is a blend of Universal Studios old school and Lynchian weird, with the town of Raven's Fair a wonderful ghost town creation, and the vengeful Mary Shaw ghost at the centre of proceedings is high on the old hag scary scale. The surface of Dead Silence is excellent, but what lies beneath is shallow and unlikely to induce Autonomatonophobia in those fortunate to not be spooked by model critters.

The story itself is just a little old hat, even if the doll/dummies angle adds a fresh spin on it. Be it Woman in Black (Herbert Wise), The Drop of Water (Mario Bava), Darkness Falls (Jonathan Liebesman) or Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven) for a handful of examples, regardless of the quality of film, stories of this type have been well enough served already. Whannell's distinctly average script adds some jolts and twists, which apart from the daft reveal at the finale (seriously it's on a par with Orphan's WTF twist), keeps the undemanding horror faithful entertained. But it's a missed opportunity to instill a new fear into those horror fans searching for a new high, it's lazy writing and forces the roll call of dolls and dummies to carry the movie on their own. Too many occasions crop up that bewilder the viewer, the opening kicks it off by having two people barely bat an eyelid when a Ventriloquist Dummy is mysteriously delivered to their home! And on it goes from there, without a semblance of thinking outside the Autonomatonophobic box.

Sadly the cast aren't up to the task of imbuing the weak plot with any amount of human drama. Kwanten isn't strong enough to lead the picture, Wahlberg struggles in a barely realised (and near pointless) role, Gunton is wasted: a victim of plot dynamics as it turns out, and Valletta, whilst pretty as a picture, is just filing in for a role that any pretty blonde actress could play on any given day. Support players Laura Regan and Michael Fairman do better at performance level, and Roberts adds a bit of creepy class for the Mary Shaw flash back sequences. Sound work is well orchestrated, with Clouser's score able to fray the nerves and Wan's decision to use silence to herald impending terror works clinically well and Leonetti's photography is suitably at one with the atmospherics required for the Raven's Fair segments, with lurid reds, shifting shadows and filtered fog all hitting the spot.

As someone who is tinged by Autonomatonophobia and Coulrophobia, I had a scary old time with the film, often finding myself breathing heavy and peeking through fingers when the camera fell on one of Mary Shaw's model creations. But that's about the level Dead Silence plays at, it's restricted in who it will scare. Meaning that even allowing for some undoubted technical flourishes (Wan undeniably has a horror talent), Dead Silence rates about 7/10 to people like me, but below that for the non dummy phobics.
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on 29 September 2011
I enjoyed this film. It had a decent story, was genuinely scary in parts and kept me absorbed all the way through. For me any film with a ventriloquist dummy in the cast has a head start - it is one of the only props that can scare you while sitting motionless at the back of any scene. A cliche - maybe - but effectively scary and perhaps "if it aint broke don't fix it".

The special effects in this film are kept under control and there is limited gore. I found this refreshing in these days of conveyor belt and for the most part, witless torture porn. I suppose this is rather ironic as it comes from the Saw stable which kick started this now depressing genre.

This film is very much a fantasy with a more and more gothic feel to it as it progresses. The old theatre (apparently located in the middle of a swamp only accessible by dinghy) is a great setting. The plot is a relatively simple - revenge from beyond the grave. Rather silly? - Perhaps. Done before? - Yes, but done well - and with a twist that I didn't see coming.

The acting and script while obviously not to Oscar standards were satisfactory with only the detective's character and input misfiring.

This film had a few scares a surprise and left me satisfied come the end (smiling rather than fowning) which for me is a good bit of escapism.
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on 4 August 2011
I should have know sitting down to this that any movie by the sickos behind Saw, (I say that with respect when it comes to horror films lol) James Wan and Leigh Wannell, would exceed expectations. Due to the marketing I expected a 'killer puppet on the rampage' film. In reality, I got something much more akin to olden-days Wes Craven - an opening killing that was far more shocking than I expected, and a creepy, deep mythology surrounding an excellent supernatural horror mystery.
Ryan Kwanten is likeable as the lead who ends up prime suspect in his wife's murder, and Donnie Wahlberg's police detective manages to be a credible bloodhound on his tail and yet refreshingly funny, without ever going too far in either direction.
The photography and scenarios are intensely creepy and superbly filmed, the murders are gruesome and disturbing, and the villain brilliant.
A superb music score from Charlie Clouser enhances the atmosphere throughout and is exceptionally dramatic and creepy.
The film has a few interesting twists, and manages to pull of one that is quite spectacular and sick.
You'll also struggle to get that damned rhyme out of your head.
A striking and excellent movie that bats well above its marketing. Not for those easily freaked out by puppets either. Highly recommended.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 January 2014
`Dead Silence' is one of those horror films that probably gets lumped in with every other million horror film currently cluttering up the bargain DVD bins. However, unlike so many of its contemporaries, this one's actually worth a look.

It's about a happily married, city-dwelling young couple, who take delivery of your average creepy horror movie-type doll. Seeing as neither had ordered a creepy horror movie doll from Amazon, they put it to one side and order takeaway. However, you should never leave a creepy horror movie-type doll alone too long, or it kills you - in this case, the wife.

Now, the husband has to return to his hometown to unravel the mystery as to why someone is sending him killer creepy horror movie-type dolls.

Yes, it's not very original. You'll find a fair few horror movie clichés along the way, but the dolls are nicely creepy, as is who we find is controlling them. It's no modern day classic (such as The Ring, Saw, or The Grudge), but, if you like your horror films, there should be enough here to keep you entertained and elevate `Dead Silence' over so many other similar films.

Maybe more of a 3.5 to most, but I'm marking up :)
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on 21 April 2008
I watched this film coz its from the directors of saw... I like horror films especially watching them with the lights off.
There was no blood and gore in this, but that was ok for me coz to "jump" in a film is just as good. I'd recommend this film if dolls/puppets creep you out as THERE'S ONE ON THE LOOSE! I'd watch it again.. possibly buy it. Its a good watch and I think its hard to come by films that can make you "jump" nowadays! It defenatly worth taking a chance on.
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on 4 October 2011
i purchased this on blu ray a few weeks back and have seen it about 3 times now,and i enjoy it every single time.its an old fashioned ghost story,without the excessive blood and guts routine,although there is a little bit.and although the story is rather silly,i have to be honest,i found it very entertaining.Ryan Kwanten as Jamie was good in his role,as was Donnie Wahlberg as the Detective on the case.the dolls look pretty creepy,but the woman who played Mary Shaw was even creepier!put it this way,you wouldnt want her as your neighbour!theres some good set pieces too,especially the theatre on the lake,that was impressive.me and my mate usually have a lads nite every few months,and i always supply the movies and beers,so when we do have another one,we shall be watching this one,no doubt.so if ghost storys are your thing,try this one,you mite be pleasently suprised by it.
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on 8 August 2014
Dead Silence is good old fashioned horror entertainment, done right. Helped by a sense of style and great imagery, it's slim story works well enough and the movie does provide some good scares

So, to the plot - a creepy ventriloquists dummy is delivered anonymously to the door of a young couple. Naturally this precipitates something supernatural, ending in violence. The hero of the tale is the husband, who recognises the dummy and takes it with him on a trip to his childhood home which is now a ruined ghost town only inhabited by a few crazy folk. The rest of the story is spent unravelling the history of the town and why the dummy brings death to the people who come into contact with it.

The story is not complex but it's a good one, and it holds your interest. What supports it is the great look of the movie, with some spectacular sets and locations including several elaborate buildings. There's atmosphere in abundance, and the film is littered with lots of clever touches, like scenes changing from maps into real roads, or dissolves from drawings into flashbacks, plenty of fluid camerawork and unusual angles. Too much of this could have got gimmicky, but it's kept in check just enough. If anything it's the shots of the creepy dummy that start to get boring, as there are only so many times that slowly swivelling eyeballs are going to give you goosebumps

The acting is so-so, the film certainly does not live or die by the performances, but they are all fairly good. There are some gory scenes, and there is a pretty good twist at the end too. Because of the great camera work and sense of style the movie looks pretty classy. I can forgive a few plot-holes when I am being entertained, and "Dead Silence' is certainly a lot of fun
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on 17 March 2012
I really wanted to like Dead Silence, and in the case of horror movies, 'liking' for me means being genuinely creeped out.

All of the elements for a good horror movie are there. The creepy setting of old-fashioned Ravens Fair, the doll theme, a really impressive and haunting musical score, some amazing derelict environments like the abandoned theatre. Mary Shaw, the ghost who seems to plague protagonist Jamie and his hometown, also has a visual design that ought to linger in the back of your mind as a horror classic (although some of her CG additions in the later half of the film were unnecessary, like that ridiculous tongue). I can't fault the visual direction at all.

For some reason, though, these elements just didn't glue together very well. The acting is average, the cast is forgettable, the script is uninspired, and the plot is delivered in such a hamfisted way that the word on my lips at several points during the film was 'silly'. The connection to the creators of Saw is touted on the DVD cover, but I'm not sure in this case that the very obvious Saw-inspired elements helped the film along. Several times during the movie, I got the feeling that there was confusion around whether they were telling a ghost story or the story of a physical horror killer, and it muddied the waters. The twist was also delivered in ways so stylistically similar to Saw that it would have jolted me out of my immersion, if I'd been immersed - the only reason I didn't guess it earlier was because I put some of the clues down to sheer bad acting/script dialogue.

It's worth a watch once, if only to appreciate the visual design and setpieces of the movie, and the twist itself is appealing in a gruesome kind of way, but if you go in expecting to be scared or compelled by a well-told ghost story as suggested on the DVD blurb, you may wind up disappointed.
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on 22 April 2014
I best say before this review that I have never been a big fan of films involving Dolls or Dummies, Puppet Master Etc as I have never found them creepy or scary so the horror never works on me. I always think the stories work well as part of an anthology in a quick 20 – 30 minute bite, but films like this always run out of steam for me.
This tells the old tale of a woman wrongly murdered in a time of old, and the current members of their bloodline now cursed by Mary Shaw wanting her revenge. There are too many plot holes, no explanation of why things are happening at a particular time, lots of killings have happen in the past but yet the police have never seen anything like it before and involves one of the most unrealistic police men I've seen played seriously. Not a lot of thought appears to have gone into the plot or dialogue and it includes the usual silly twist at the end that you get with these types of movies.
On the plus side I enjoyed it a lot more then Saw or Insidious, two films from the same team. It's not that it is a bad film it just is not a great one. It's the kind of middle of the road film that appeals to the mainstream majority of film goers that like their big Cineplex’s as opposed to their small independent art-house. It's acted and directed in a pleasant and unchallenging way and is a nice film to watch when you don't want to think or concentrate.
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