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Face-Off: Dead Silence Vs. Insidious

07.22.2013by: Mike Catalano
It was a thrill seeing that everyone had a roar-some time with our our last ode-to-PACIFIC RIM (which also was incredible) Face-Off. The majority did agree with me that Godzilla was the rightful winner over King Kong, so I'm glad that pressing, worldwide debate can be put to rest.

Today's spooky Face-Off pays homage to the great James Wan who has gifted and perhaps even elevated our beloved genre with a fine resume of fantastic horror films. His latest, THE CONJURING, may very well be his masterpiece! Since that film is heavy on the haunting, we decided to pit two of his other ghostly-themed flicks up against each other. So, get your favorite paranormal investigator on the line because here comes DEAD SILENCE Vs. INSIDIOUS!

Evil Spirit
Mary Shaw is one vengeful bitch! She even comes with her own freaky children's lullaby! And let me just say, using a bunch of friggin' creepy ass ventriloquist dolls as her vessels of terror will scare the shit out of anyone. Worst of all? Her favorite technique of mayhem before you die is to cut out your damn tongue! That shit just ain't right!
Baal is certainly one terrifying motherf*cker at first. Whenever his face popped up on the screen all red and black, my shorts went all brown. He's got these scary, Kruger-esque claws that create these crazy shadows whenever he reaches out toward his potential victims. However, once we get the full-on view of his bod, the hooves look kind of silly. Then the scary kind of turns to hilarity.
The Living
Ryan Kwanten's "Jamie" is a serviceable enough protagonist as he attempts to solve the mystery behind his wife's murder. He's got determination, a brave heart, and a fairly sharp mind. The same can basically be said for Donnie Wahlberg's sarcastic "Detective Lipton" who inadvertently gets caught up in Mary Shaw's legend as he tails Jamie. However, neither of these guys were able to outsmart Billy the puppet.
The Lamberts are a very sweet and loving family, which I suppose would make an easy target for an evil demon. Once their son becomes trapped and tormented within The Further, Mom (Rose Byrne) and Dad (Patrick Wilson) summon all their courage in order to save him. They are determined, strong, and even risk their own lives, especially when Dad himself ventures into The Further to find his son.
Creepiness
Freakin puppets with huge, scary eyes that come to life and slice 'n dice?! Yeah, that is some creepy ass shit! Plus, an old lady with an affinity for treating her puppet dolls like kids and even kills kids. Dead Silence takes the creepy factor to the limit. And knowing that if you scream, you're gonna lose your tongue in a bloody barrage a second later doesn't help the squirm-in-your-seat factor. The creepy cherry on top is the clown puppet that shows up towards the end.
Insidious is loaded with creepy instances throughout its running time. It's so tightened with tenseness, you may even miss a few of its greatest boo bits! Did you catch that ghost kid facing the wall in the laundry room when Mrs. Lambert walks by? I sure as shit know that I'll never hear "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" the same ever again. And all the ghostly souls inside The Further do an okay job of straddling the line between creepy and silly.
Best Scare
There's the scene in a motel at night as Jamie is sleeping. Billy the puppet is sitting quietly on a chair as this red light from outside flashes on and off and a sink makes a dripping noise. Suddenly, the sounds come to a halt. The camera zooms in on Billy's face... and his f*cking eyes move! Jamie hears someone call his name and wakes up to find Billy right in front of his face! It's a brilliantly maneuvered jump scare that is perfectly set up by Mr. Wan, the master.
The Lamberts are sitting at a table as Lorraine, Mr. Lambert's mother, is telling them of a dream she had about their son and this horrible demon creature. Lorraine goes into great detail describing the evil entity and how it appeared to want to take the son. Mrs. Lambert appears clearly frightened, however Mr. Lambert is a tad skeptical. After finishing her story, Lorraine looks over at her son to find the demon's red and black face peaking out from behind him. It catches everyone so off guard is makes for one classic scare.
Ending
It's funny how James Wan didn't get pegged as a twist ending director after the brilliant curve thrown at the end of SAW. Yet he still delivers one hell of a twist at the conclusion of Dead Silence that I certainly didn't see coming. It's one whacked out twist, but damn if the nicely structured script doesn't do a nice job of selling it. It turns out that Jamie's father was dead the whole time and only looked alive because he was being worked like a ventriloquist's dummy by his newest bride who happens to really be a super lifelike dummy being puppetteered by Mary Shaw's psycho spirit! It sounds nuts, but it works!
As Mr. Lambert ventures through The Further, his wife and the paranormal investigating team wait impatiently in the real world to see if he can find his son. Thankfully, he does, but also alerts the evil demon of what is going on. The two are pursued back home by the evil entity and just when you think they are going to make it, Mr. Lambert is confronted by the old woman spirit that haunted him when he was younger. Then, both father and son wake up, having seemingly survived their trip home. However, something is a tad off with Mr. Lambert. The lead paranormal investigator realizes what he's become, but it's too late! The evil old woman has already taken over his body and ends the film on a fittingly jolting note.
Insidious
Whoa! That was one intense race! I honestly had trouble deciding which Wan flicked deserved the win. I'm sure that many will say that Insidious is by far the superior flick, but don't underestimate the craft with which Dead Silence was made. I'm hoping we get some interesting comments below to take this topic further. And feel free to send any future Face-Off ideas to me at [email protected].

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