Starring: Lin Shaye, Dermot Mulroney, and Stefanie Scott
Reviewed by: Brendan Graham (Phantomhour)
When the first Insidious came out in theaters, James Wan proved that just because a horror film is PG-13, doesn’t mean it’s rubbish. It was intensely frightening and it created a series of films that took audiences into a hellish descent, into a ghostly work called The Further. This time around, Leigh Wannell (James Wan’s friend and a star from Saw and Insidious) took over the director’s chair for this prequel chapter in the franchise. How does it stack up?
Everyone is already aware about how much I enjoy James Wan’s work. So I won’t jabber on about it again. This time around I’m reviewing one of his films that didn’t take off, it barely got any good reviews and many audiences just skipped over it because of what they’ve heard. Which, in this reviewer’s opinion, is a real shame, because this film is one of my favorites.
In the town of Ravens Faire, there is a curse upon the families that no one likes to talk about. The curse of a ventriloquist who was silenced by the town by having her tongue cut out, and now she’s out for revenge, by silencing those who silenced her. Jamie (Played by Ryan Kwanten) thought he had left all the bad tidings behind when he moved out from the cursed town, but when a mysterious package arrives that contains a ventriloquist dummy, is he reminded of the story of the woman named Mary Shaw (Played by Judith Roberts) and when he comes home to find his girlfriend dead, and immediately goes back to his hometown to sort out what could have happened to her, all the while being harassed and accused of murder by Detective Lipton (Played by Donnie Wahlberg)
What Works: Like the classic Universal Horror Films before, the story of Dead Silence is fantastically told. Both beautiful and creepy, the idea of hell hath no fury like a woman scorned takes a whole new level in this spookhouse film. The cast is pretty good here for the most part, True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten is a likable hero, but the real start of the show is Mary Shaw who just oozes with demented dread with her on screen presence, she sells the movie, and she sells it good.
The set designs are absolutely incredible, the costumes are well put together, and the lighting is brilliantly constructed, everything has incredible mood and detailing that puts the look of the film up with other haunting films like The Haunting and House on Haunted Hill ( The older versions, the new ones are quite mediocre). A lot of the film’s success should be given to the cinematographer, John R. Leonetti, who approached the film differently in order to create an otherworldly sensation while you’re in the town of Ravens Faire.
It’s also worth noting that the soundtrack and score are incredible as well, in fact, the score is a must listen for Halloween.
What Didn’t Work: As much as I love the film, it’s definitely not without it’s faults. The story slows down in the middle, there’s some unneeded exposition that just weights everything down, in fact I could see why some reviewers thought the film was boring. Donnie Wahlberg is a little too, well, whacky to remain plausible in his role as the Detective. The very end of the film is probably where the film loses it’s audience quite a bit, with a completely obvious twist at the end, that can make the viewer feel that James Wan was holding their hand to make sure they got the twist, which can feel insulting to some.
This movie is too much fun to not give it the recognition it deserves. It’s creepy, well put together, and it’s very hard to pull off the classic horror vibe without it getting too silly. Dead Silence is a joy for me because it takes risks and embraces the past of horror cinema. Give it a shot, you may end up liking it. 7 out of 10.