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Old 07-04-2007, 12:20 PM   #126
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Dead Silence
Directed by James Wan
Written by Leigh Whannell
Starring Michael Fairman, Bob Gunton, Joan Heney, Ryan Kwanten, Laura Regan, Amber Valletta and Donnie Wahlberg

In 2004, director and writer James Wan, along with his collaborative writing partner Leigh Whannell, found tremendous success with their twisted, cult-classic terror film Saw. While the original movie in the series has been the most critically well-received, the movie only grossed a little over $50 million. Its two follow-up sequels having taken the movie franchise to the nearly $100 million level at the box-office. Wan and Whannell have now stepped away from the successful Saw series to create a new horror flick, the overall abysmal Dead Silence.

In the suburban town of Raven's Fair, there is a ghost story about Mary Shaw, a ventriloquist who was killed and buried along with her handmade collection of puppets. The town has since been plagued by death, with people found gruesomely murdered with their tongues torn out and their jaws ripped open. Following the grizzly killing of his wife Lisa (Laura Regan) after receiving a mysterious package containing a ventriloquist dummy, Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten) recalls the bad omen in his hometown regarding Mary Shaw.

While being investigated by homicide detective Jim Lipton (Donnie Wahlberg) for the murder of his wife, Jamie returns to Raven's Fair where its discovered that Shaw's collection of buried puppets have been removed from their gravesites. Jamie feverishly works to unravel the mystery behind Lisa's death, to clear his name of any wrongdoing in the case and to also understand the true story behind the deceased Mary Shaw.

A Child's Play for a new generation of horror fans, Dead Silence has a certain appeal brought to light through its settings and cinematography, but its entirely for naught when matched-up against its shallow and superficial narrative. Similar to this year's earlier horror release Thr3e, Dead Silence doesn't go the route of the more recent Saw movies or Hostel by simply shocking the audience with how grotesque its murders can be, but its lack of intrigue or compelling story make it feel similarly deficient.

Wan and Whannell's original Saw nailed the appropriate mechanics in the mystery thriller genre, knowing what to reveal and when to reveal it, with an inspired ending that was the film's main appeal. In Dead Silence, the characters just stumble upon the key plot points in absurd ways, and for the most part, in predictable fashion. The dialogue is rancid, and the ridiculous backstories and tacked-on ending provided will leave an unpleasant taste in the audience's mouth.

Although the puppets play a rather small role in the film, it is humorous to note that the ensemble cast appears to be far more wooden than their artificial co-stars. Kwanten (Flicka, TV's Summerland) is one of the more bland actors to headline a film, and is particularly hard to stomach when regurgitating Whannell's awful dialogue. Wahlberg's (Saw III, Annapolis) straight-laced detective who is clueless to the actual events he is investigating had some potential to be an unnerving character, but since he isn't able to play off of a likeable lead actor, he instead seems insignificant and annoying.

A futile and frivolous flick from start to finish, Dead Silence is a mild and generic ghost tale that leaves a lasting impression for all the wrong reasons.


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