Thursday, July 7, 2016

Dead Silence (2007) - 4 stars out of 10

Dead Silence (2007) - 4 stars out of 10

“Dead Silence” is an odd horror film from the creators of the “Saw” franchise.  Ventriloquist dummies are creepy enough as is but this story goes beyond the doll and focuses on the puppetmaster.  Simply put, it's a total creepfest.  It has some similarities to “Saw” like its use of puppets and a mind-bending twist that completely alters your perspective.  Unfortunately, its story lacks the depth found in other Leigh Whannell scripts like “Saw” or “Insidious” and the acting falls short of the quality expected in modern horror films.  The film builds a lot of suspense but the story is so thin and disjointed that the suspense doesn't mean much.  I found it to be the sort of horror film that won't give you nightmares because it is so unrealistic.  The content would have been terrifying if done in a realistic way but the supernatural elements take away a lot of the scare factor.  When I watch a horror film, I want to be terrified because my empathy psychologically puts me in the position of the terrorized character.  I don’t want to feel indifference as someone’s tongue is cut out because the situation isn’t relatable.  I also don’t want to be left wondering why simple questions weren’t answered.  Like, why does someone have to scream in order for Mary to kill them?  Or why is the cop continually shaving his neck?  It would’ve taken 20 seconds to explain a number of these plot points but we are left in the dark for no reason.  That being said, I have to compliment this film for ending with one of the most insane twists that I have ever seen.  I was disappointed with the first 85 minutes of the film, but the last minute was so incredulous that I'm actually glad that I sat through this.  The film obviously falls far short of classics like “Psycho” and “The Sixth Sense” but its twist is somehow worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence.  The answer is right there all along but you will never see it coming.  You wouldn't expect an average horror film to have the continuity that sets up the ending from the opening credits through the final scene, but this one does a great job.  It's definitely one of those films that you will appreciate more once you go back and watch a few key scenes.  Even with this amazing plot twist, the story again suffers because the big reveal lacks clarity.  It isn’t one on those things where the writers want to make us interpret the ending in our own way; instead, they assume that the audience can figure a piece of the puzzle out on their own but some Googling has revealed that nobody actually fully understands it.  There is a difference between allowing the audience to make inferences throughout a film and failing to properly explain an important piece of information.  Dolls are up there with clowns and scary basements when it comes to creepy things that we commonly encounter throughout our lives and “Dead Silence” brings a fresh interpretation to this classic horror device.  Unfortunately, its interpretation is overshadowed by too much reliance on the supernatural and an overall lack of clarity.

[Pictured: Dolls are creepy, ventriloquist dummies are worse]

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