Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Dead Silence

(2007) ***

Beware the stare of Mary Shaw
She had no children, only dolls
And if you see her in your dreams
Be sure you never, ever scream

‘Dreamy’ Ryan seems to have it all, a pretty wife, a decent apartment, and, well that’s pretty much all I can think of. One day, while making out with his wife in the kitchen (who does that?), someone knocks on the front door. When he opens it he finds a large package devoid of identifying information. Tearing off the wrapping paper with his wife (see they do everything together) he finds the kick-ass ventriloquist dummy pictured above (by “kick-ass” I mean terrifying). It does not take long before Ryan has to go on some errand, leaving his wife alone with ‘Billy’ (of course its name is Billy, would you expect anything else?). Prancing around the apartment and stuffing a pillow under her shirt to see what she would look like pregnant (awe, how precious), it does not take long before Billy murders her, horribly. When Ryan returns he finds his way-dead wife with her jaw ripped open like…wait for it…it’s coming…yep, a ventriloquist dummy. Of course Ryan becomes the number one suspect and cop Donnie Wahlberg (whose new career appears to be horror movies) interrogates him. Leaving the police station Ryan valiantly informs Donnie, “I’m going to go do your job and figure out what’s going on here!” or something like that.

Ryan’s investigation leads him back to his hometown, Raven’s Fair, which is one of those disquieting hometowns you only see in the movies. Every business is closed and aside from his father’s palatial mansion, there does not appear to be many town denizens save a few children and a smattering of weird townsfolk (think any of the Children of the Corn sequels). As the poem above suggests, there is a reason for the killer ventriloquist dummy. Mary Shaw was a gifted ventriloquist but she was also a bit of a nut job. After being accused of murdering a young local boy the town banded together and dispensed some Freddy Kruger justice by cutting out her tongue, murdering her, and burying her with her 100 ventriloquist dummies. Thereafter the ghosts of these dummies have haunted the town, serving to foreshadow someone’s death. Whenever someone glimpses one of these ghastly puppets, he or she dies shortly after like Ryan’s wife. Ryan sets out to get to the bottom of the mystery, which I just fully explained, and to try to stop the curse from claiming any more people. Will he be able to put an end to this once in for all? Don’t be so sure.

Believe it or not, Dead Silence is a lot of fun. It follows a very familiar formula (i.e., some long ago town tragedy has cursed everyone and it’s up to our ‘dreamy’ protagonist to save the day), but it has some original scares and one hell of a twist ending that I never saw coming. Then again I’m not usually able to predict the end of a Scooby-Doo caper either so I guess that’s not saying much. Unlike other movies with puppets, these dummies are not animated save an eye blink here or there and the occasional jaw opening. They serve more as an omen such as seeing the blue boy in JU-ON. Worth a viewing.

I always thought lamb chop was creepy


Whirlygirl said...

Sounds entertaining. I would maybe check it out if it wasn't for those damn vebtriloquist dummies. They totally freak me out. So does Lamb Chop.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

"‘Dreamy’ Ryan seems to have it all, a pretty wife, a decent apartment, and, well that’s pretty much all I can think of."

Hilarious! After reviewing so many horror movies, it gets harder and harder to avoid repeating yourself during the synopses.

I always think of Chip Block from King of the Hill when I hear about ventriloquists.

Octopunk said...

It's true. How many variations on "a group of attractive teenagers" have we ground through by now?

I was thinking about seeing this when it came out but as often happens didn't get around to it. Ventriloquist dummies are possessed of instant creepiness, whether they're in a horror movie or not.

So, JPX, does this mean you're taking on the Puppet Master series?

JPX said...

"So, JPX, does this mean you're taking on the Puppet Master series?"

God, what is it about that movie series that makes me run the other way?