Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dead Silence

People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
- Simon and Garfunkel

Just how hard is it to make a good evil dummy movie? In my last review I noted how dolls are just plain creepy. That's true, but dummies are 10,000 times creepier. They can be lying there, not doing anything and still creep you out. However, as scary as they are, we really haven't ever had a good dummy horror movie. I mean, there was Magic, but that was more psychological than scary. So it was with high hopes that I watched Dead Silence, windering if it would be the scary ventriloquist/dummy movie I've been waiting for.

Yeah, I'm still waiting. 
Jamie and Lisa are a happy garden-variety young couple living in the city. One night, for no apparent reason, they get a box delivered to their door with a dummy in it. Jamie leaves to get take-out, leaving Lisa alone in the apartment with said dummy. Suddenly all sound stops around her, even the tea pot stops whistling. And Jamie comes back to find poor Lisa propped up on the bed with her jaw ripped off.

It's actually a really good beginning. Suspenseful, weird and kind of cool. Sadly the rest of the movie is a waste.

I know this movie has its fans but I just can't be one of them. I tried, I really tried to like it but nothing clicked for me. The blue-tint to the film is off-putting and unnecessary. We get a lot of scenes of annoying cop Donnie Wahlberg accusing Jamie of killing his wife, which is even funnier since it seems like Jamie has a rock-tight alibi getting take-out in a busy city where many people had seen him, but of course, that's never mentioned. Evil ventriloquist Mary Shaw isn't given much screen time so we really don't get a chance to fear her. There's a twist at the end that's more "groan inducing" than eye-opening. And the dummy. The dummy really isn't that scary. In fact, I actually had to re-watch the film again to remember what he looked like.

So sorry folks, I couldn't get into this one.  But I'll be waiting in case anyone finally wants to make a good dummy horror movie.  I'm an optimist. 

Favorite Moments (may contain spoilers):
  • A terrified Lisa looking around the apartment as the tea kettle stops whistling and the clock slows down.
  • Mary Shaw inviting the little boy who heckled her to come on stage.
  • All the stacked dummies in the storeroom turning their head in unison to look at Jamie. 
 Fun Facts Kids!
  • One of the dummies in the store-room is Jigsaw's puppet from Saw. Dead Silence director James Wan wrote and directed Saw.
  • Donnie Wahlberg who plays Det. Lipton is a former member of New Kids on the Block.
  • The town's name, Raven's Fair, is an homage to Edgar Allen Poe.
  • One of Judith Roberts (Mary Shaw) earlier roles was as the "beautiful woman" in David Lynch's Eraserhead. 

 Agree?  Disagree?  Or just have a random string of curse words you'd like to share? Comment!


The Political Palaver said...

Not a big fan of this flick, but didn't hate it, either. All of its appeal has to do with the creepiness of the ventriloquist dummies. I agree, the theme has not been properly explored or executed. I think that has to do with the fact that there's a fine line between subtlety and absurdity. If you go into the psychological/deranged ventriloquist angle, it's not enough to truly be scary, like a Twilight Zone episode or Magic, which you described. If you go beyond, into the "dummy is living entity," ie, a more supernatural route, it's easy to get kind of silly, like "The Ventriloquist's Dummy" Tales from the Crypt episode or Dead Silence.

One of these days, they'll get it right. Best ventriloquist dummy horror so far, in my opinion, was probably last segment of Dead of Night.

Cheryl said...

I haven't seen Dead of Night but I'll have to, thanks for the tip.

I just recently watched the movie Tourist Trap, don't know if you've ever seen that one. What a nice little nasty surprise of a movie that was (although it was more about mannequins than dummies). But definitely creepier than Dead Silence