Mmph mmphmmph

20 Feb

Dead silence posterOn paper Dead Silence sounds like utter nonsense – a man is investigated after his wife is found dead and he blames a possessed ventriloquist dummy. It was on the Syfy channel – I was lured into a false sense of safety. I was thinking, ‘Oh, this should be funny’.

Now, I’m not a big fan of supernatural horrors (I’d take a psycho over a ghost any day) – in fact, the last one I watched was The Grudge and I found myself sitting in the foetal position holding my breath during the final scenes. Exceptions to the rule usually involve incentive such as say…. Ryan Reynold’s chopping wood shirtless (The Amityville Horror remake). In this case, I must admit I read the plot and thought ‘Maybe’ and then saw the cast list (True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten) and thought ‘Oh, OK then’. Not only did it have a ridiculous plot but it’s acted by an ex-Home and Away star. It had to be silly! Right?

Wrong. You may call me a wuss but I found this film really creepy. Sure, it is really contrived in parts, and it was pretty silly plot-wise – but jeez, those dummies are creepy! And the old woman? Holy crap!

Had I known that it was made by the people responsible for Saw 3 I’d never have chosen to watch it.  (Feel free to rant at me about whether Saw 3 was any good – just be aware that I’ve not seen any of the series and never plan to.)   I debated whether or not Dead Silence should actually be included on here – it’s nowhere near as silly as the rest of the films I’ve reviewed but hey – I’ve not written anything in a while.

Acting-wise, Kwanten does a fairly decent job – I should have known he wouldn’t be quite as hammy as I’d expected from the blurb given that he’s pretty good in True Blood. The bizarre caricature of a noir-style detective (played by Donnie Wahlberg) is er…well, I’m not sure it’s the acting that’s at fault here- more the writing. (We get that he’s manly, there’s really no need to have him carry around an electric shaver and show him shaving in pretty much every scene he’s in!)

The props and surroundings are really creepy – there’s a scene where there’s literally a wall of ventriloquist dummies in cases all moving one by one which had me really tempted to change the channel. They seem to have filmed the whole thing with a grey/blue filter which does seem a bit heavy in the day-time scenes but seems to work quite well for setting the eerie tone. The basement of the funeral home is a bit of an unlikely place to hide when facing the undead but it’s quite a frequently-used plot device here and works quite well – who can say they’d be happy trapped with a possessed ghoul in a dimly-lit, dirty, cramped, crawl-space in a funeral home? Yeah, I thought not.

Basically, the writers pull cheap punches but somehow it works.

  • A graveyard of 100 tiny graves for the dummies? Check!
  • An old local myth of a ghostly old lady who kills people when they scream? Check!
  • Dummies that move of their own free will? Check! Weird children’s rhymes? Check!
  • Crazy old lady who knows what’s coming but no one believes her because she’s nuttier than squirrel poo? Check!
  • Gruesome cause of death? Check!

It’s fair to say that I was quite impressed with the film as a whole – it certainly did the job in scaring me (admittedly, not that difficult). It was well done, and despite the cheesiness and the bad characterisation, the ending wasn’t really what I expected – so bonus points for that too.  It’s certainly not high-brow viewing but then, if you read this blog then you’re probably used to that anyway.

6 horror stereotypes out of 10

Here’s the trailer (I can’t find one which will allow embedding)

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