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Dead Silence (Unrated)
DVD disk
06.26.2007 By: Jason Adams
Dead Silence (Unrated) order
Director:
James Wan

Actors:
Ryan Kwanten
Amber Valletta
Connie Wahlberg

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
One stormy night, Jamie receives an unmarked package on his doorstep containing a creepy ass ventriloquist dummy. The next thing he knows, his wife has been murdered and he’s the main suspect. Now his only course of action is to return to his hometown and confront an urban legend involving a ventriloquist named Mary Shaw and her 101 wooden “children.”
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I won’t deny enjoying the first SAW movie. The sequels may have diminished any goodwill it had, but at the time the original was a fun and inventive horror-thriller. So I was curious to see what James Wan did with DEAD SILENCE and whether or not the man was a one trick-pony.

I didn’t think DEAD SILENCE was all that terrifying in a “keep-you-awake-at-night” kinda way, but Wan definitely knows the elements to at least creep you out. It’s as if he took everything that scared me as a kid—possessed ventriloquist dolls, demonic old ladies, scary clowns—and threw it all in a blender. It’s no THE SHINING, but there were enough creepy goings-on to create a tense atmosphere and chilly mood, as opposed to just relying on the usual “boo” scares. That’s definitely where Wan showed some filmmaking chops. Aside from an effective visual palette, I appreciated the use of ambient sounds and, um, silence as tools to frighten you. And the SAW-esque twist at the end felt a little familiar, but overall it worked for me.

Of course the movie is not without the characteristic lapses in logic, Volkswagen sized plot holes, or the occasional bad dialogue. Some of the stuff with the dolls was a little more cheesy than scary. And I had the same issue regarding the acting as I did with SAW; some of the performance were a little…wooden (har har). The main character especially was incredibly bland and emotionless, which really hurt the movie overall. Likewise, Donnie Wahlberg’s wisecracking cop provided some needed lightness, but his comic quips often borderlined on feeling out of place.

I will give DEAD SILENCE props for a) not being a remake or J-Horror knockoff and b) focusing on “classic” scary elements (i.e. not just gore or people getting tortured). Whether or not you think Wan is the next great horror filmmaker, at least it looks like his heart lies in the right place.
THE EXTRAS
I’m not exactly sure what’s new in this Unrated version, but it’s a minute longer than the theatrical cut so there must be some new stuff. It was honestly still fairly tame overall; not too much gore or bad language, and sadly no TEAM AMERICA-style puppet orgies.

Alternate Opening (1:38): Simply a quick bedtime story introducing the legend of Mary Shaw. It might’ve made for a nice pre-credits lead in, but all that’s covered later in the movie so I can see why it was cut.

Alternate Ending (3:44): It offers a more direct explanation of the twist, which is ultimately unnecessary.

Deleted Scenes (3:49): You get three, all revolving around a character that was cut entirely.

The Making of DEAD SILENCE (11:57): Your typical BTS piece, with a particular focus on Wan’s vision for the film. It’s filled with spoilers, so don’t watch it if you haven’t seen the movie. (Not sure why you would anyways…)

Mary Shaw’s Secrets (6:42): This featurette concentrates on the back story and mythology of the villain, as well as casting the actress and getting her in to scary makeup.

Evolution of a Visual FX (4:02): Unfortunately this doesn’t center on a horror effect, but rather a shot of people walking over a bridge. Exciting stuff.

Aiden’s We Sleep Forever Music Video: A pretty awful goth-emo band—by which I mean their music AND their costumes. It seriously looks like they just got back from a NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS convention.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
DEAD SILENCE isn’t really scary scary, although if you’re not a fan of evil dolls, creepy clowns or killer grandmas you should get a few chills down your spine. I honestly appreciated the movie as something that was trying to be original and harken back to pre-slasher ghost stories, but it definitely should’ve been released in October, not March.

Extra Tidbit: Lookout for a cameo by the SAW doll.
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