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Dead Silence (2007)

Written by Leigh Whannell Directed by James Wan

   Watching any of the films that James Wan and Leigh Whannell have worked on certainly indicate one of several things; what huge Horror fans they are! Okay, and because I’m a big fan, all the interviews and behind the scenes have also assured such. However my point is that because they share that love for the macabre that their able to provide fans with all the classic elements in Horror that we don’t see too often. Overshadowed by the ever popular tits and ass, or ripping off as many limbs in as little time as possible. And sure, they have their moments for entertaining as well, but they’ll never stay with you the way a good ghost story can.

Beware the stare of Mary Shaw.
She has no children, only dolls.
And if you see her in your dreams,
Be sure you never, ever scream.

   The year was 1941 and Mary Shaw (Judith Roberts) had become quite the renown ventriloquist with her doll Billy (also the name of the puppet in Saw). Later killed by several families in Ravens Fair after believing her to be behind the disappearance of a young boy that had interrupted her show with thoughts of doubt. Deciding to deal out their own justice, they found her and forced her to scream so as to cut out her tongue.

Seeking out revenge by casting her shadow over the entire town and chasing down each family member associated with her death; handing out the same justice served to her. Having the last of the lineage (Jamie; Ryan Kwanten) arrive back into town upon receiving a mysterious package in the mail, shortly followed by the death of his wife. Waiting for the Police to release her body and having her brought to the town’s mortuary in which Henry (Michael Fairman) is overcome with painful childhood memories. Knowing exactly what the expression on Lisa’s (Laura Regan) face had meant.

Besides arranging funerals plans, Jamie knew seeing his father (Bob Gunton) would have to be part of the agenda. Not realizing it would also mean spending just as much time with his third stepmother Ella (Amber Valletta). Put into her complete care after having a stroke two months prior. Promises of becoming a better man met with questions of where that demeanor had been when younger, refusing to forgive his former ways. Worsening after hearing of information that it had been his uncle that the town stories had always been about. Wanting no part in their crime Jamie attempts to ward off the spirit by burying her doll. Though with little luck as the Detective (Donnie Wahlberg) who had suspected him of foul play assured the evidence wouldn’t be buried off that easily; having followed closely behind once arriving in town. Eventually teaming up as they venture out to the theater of which Mary Shaw had lived and performed. Finding all 101 Dalmatians (juuuust kidding); puppets all dug up. As was part of her will that she be buried with them but what was more, turned into one herself. Having a fascination with creating the perfect doll and finding that time was only on her side as she wished to silence those that had silenced her.

However, there would appear to be some missing information unless viewing the alternate and deleted scenes originally toyed with. Involving a small story-line with the keeper of the grounds named Boz, hinting at the would be alternate ending. Of which explained how his father had put Ella in the Hospital at one point, pregnant at the time. Rage consuming her after losing her baby as she found herself digging up Billy and the spirit taking over her, ending with her capturing a moment with her newly found family. Rightfully choosing the better between the two for the final product as while providing the tiniest bit of information on where Ella was coming from, wasn’t as to the point as what they ended up with.

Though let us not forget the most memorable aspect of the film all together; the casting of Judith Roberts. At first having trouble finding an Actress, they decided to open up the auditions to the older theatrical Actresses of a better time and on the first day were able to find their Mary Shaw. Enduring 4 hours of makeup with an amazing pair of eyes and voice to match, she hypnotized you from the moment appearing on-screen. The Billy doll also had its way of capturing your attention with the slight interactions had with Jamie throughout. Whatever Wan’s obsession with dolls is seems to be working for him as he did his fair share in making me never want to see another as I live. Though the supporting cast were modestly enjoyable they weren’t really shown as often. Simply focusing on the story at hand. With Donnie’s endeavor as the quirky and out of place cop being spot on; let’s just hope everything he did really was on purpose.

Nevertheless a fantastic first watch, as any critic knows going into a genre film with high hopes can go either way. Because there is no doubt after of how “obvious” the information had been laid out all along. Like not noticing the damn tux his father wears and head movements made with Ella; it was right there! But a great “Ah ha!” moment just the same. Adding a tint of blue to the film so as to emphasize the use of red, of which was meant as a main character in itself. Combining with the silence to warn those of her return and should she hear you scream, cut out your tongue at its seam. (The other way her little rhyme ends; personally liking the first version) Not necessarily taking away from copious viewings either, but simply opening up the way you looked at each scene. (Including noticing the Jigsaw puppet towards the end once in the room of dolls) Creating a great atmosphere with the combination of vintage styling and arrangement of scenes leading to her anticipated avengement.