Dead Silence by James Wan

Dead_Silence ★☆☆☆☆
Dead Silence
Directed by James Wan
2007 / 89 Minutes

The Setup: A widower returns to his hometown to search for answers to his wife’s murder, which may be linked to the ghost of a murdered ventriloquist. (From IMDB)

There are two things you need to know about Dead Silence. One: it’s brought to you by “the writers, director, and producers of Saw.” I could have just said the people who made Saw, but instead I’m quoting directly from the actual movie poster. Two: it’s quite possibly the worst movie I’ve seen all year. It’s just plain awful all around.

The premise is pretty simple. There’s this killer ventriloquist dummy on the loose and just as he’s about to do something really bad, everything goes silent. That seems easy enough, but the writers, director and producers of Saw can’t even get that one basic thing right. For example, the first time someone is about to die, a radio and a kettle go silent, but we can still hear the woman’s footsteps on the creaky hardwood floor as she moves about her apartment. That’s not dead silence, but I guess they didn’t believe a horror movie titled “Selective Hearing” would sell a lot of tickets at the box office.

I’m going to give you some actual dialog from the film so you can experience first hand just how bad it is without actually having to view the entire thing, but first let me set the scene for you.

Lisa and Jamie were recently married and are currently living happily in an apartment in “the city.” One night the doorbell rings and Jamie answers. He opens the door to find no one waiting, but there’s a large package sitting there with his name on it and no return address. Curious, he drags the parcel inside the apartment and opens it, only to discover a ventriloquist dummy inside. Jamie is puzzled, but he’s also really hungry, so he leaves to grab some take out. While he’s gone the dummy murders his wife, cuts out her tongue, and poses her on the bed like a life-sized version of himself. Jamie returns home, finds her dead, and calls the police. Next we see two police officers discussing the case:

Female Detective: The strange thing is, she’s got no defensive wounds. Now, if someone was trying to turn my face into a jack-o-lantern, I’d be fighting back a little.
Cop Donnie Wahlberg: You always have been a little feisty, partner. Ligature marks?
Female Detective: Not a one.
Cop Donnie Wahlberg: How about uh…
Female Cop: Drugs.
Cop Donnie Wahlberg: Yeah. I think the words here, they come out there.
Female Cop: Preliminary results say no, but the final tox results won’t be in for 48 hours. Personally, I think only someone high as a kite would kill his wife and pose her like a manniquen. The weirdest thing is her face. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Flash forward a bit to Cop Donnie Wahlberg in an interrogation room questioning Jamie:

Jamie: Suspicion? If you want to talk suspicion, why don’t you start by taking a look at the package that turned up on my doorstep.
Cop Donnie Wahlberg: Ah, yeah, that package right? Let’s see, you received an unmarked package just moments before Lisa was killed.
Jamie: Yeah.
Together: A package containing a ventriloquist dummy.
Cop Donnie Wahlberg: Well, the mystery toy department is down the hall. This is the homicide department. Now unless you can tell me how some puppet ties into your wife’s murder I don’t see the relevance.

Really, you don’t see it? Dummy arrives in the mail. Wife murdered, posed as a dummy. Yeah, I guess I can’t see how you could possibly connect those dots either. They continue:

Jamie: In the town where I’m from, a ventriloquist dummy is a bad omen. It’s kind of a local legend and people believe that the dummy brings death to those around them.
Cop Donnie Wahlberg: Okay. Well Jaime, I’ve never arrested a dummy for murder before, but I have arrested quite few husbands.
Jamie: You don’t think it’s weird that this package arrives right before Lisa is killed?
Cop Donnie Wahlberg: No, I’m going to tell you what I think is weird. You said your wife spoke to you just moments before you found her, right?
Jamie: Yeah.
Cop Donnie Wahlberg: But she didn’t have a tongue. In fact, according to you, she was already dead. Now, see to me, that’s weird.
Jamie: So what are you going to do? Arrest me?
Cop Donnie Wahlberg: Not yet. Look, you can go. You’re a free man for now.

Whoa. Free? He’s the only suspect in his wife’s murder and you’re going to just let him walk out the door? He “lied” to you about hearing her voice and you don’t believe the dummy did it. There are no signs of forced entry or a struggle. Wouldn’t you at least hold Jamie for 48 hours while you investigate his apartment fully and process all the evidence?

That scene is only fifteen minutes into the flick and it only gets worse from there. Trust me, avoid Dead Silence at all costs. Don’t buy it, don’t rent it, don’t even watch it if you’re channel surfing and it happens to be on one of the 710 movie stations your cable package offers. I’ll never be able to get the 90 minutes of my life I wasted watching this pile of dung back, but you shouldn’t have to suffer needlessly too.


About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.