Dead Silence is not as bad as all the critics made it out to be. Directed by James Wan and written by Leigh Whannell, the creators of the Saw franchise, it may not be the movie they completely envisioned, but the final product was pretty entertaining, if a little formulaic. There was a lot of hope for this film after following Saw. Many thought it would lead to a new horror franchise and that Wan and Whannell would raise the bar and while they ultimately failed to do so, there is nothing that said they had to do what everyone expected. A part of this film’s failure could be due to the fact that the script went through a couple of changes after it left Whannel’s hands. The man can write a good movie as was proven before and after this film was released, so why the studio thought it would be a good idea to tamper with his work is unknown, but if anyone was to blame for this film’s lack of box office, it was the studio.
One thing that this film did do was to bring puppets back into the horror consciousness. Dolls are scary and so are clowns and when you mash those two together, you get a ventriloquist’s dummy which is a talking, freakish mashup of the two. Movies had been made previously with said creatures, Devil Doll comes to mind, and it was a smart move on the filmmaker’s part to try something a little different than the average slasher or creature feature and bring a sub-genre, if you can call it that, back from the grave. Different is always good, whether you succeed or not and while it would have been nice to see this film win over its audience, some of the ham-fisted dialogue as well as Donnie Wahlberg saw that it did not.
One thing this picture did have was a good cast and combining that with the moody atmosphere and the creepy special effects, the film did turn out all right despite its flaws. Ryan Kwanten would star as the lead, a man people would more than likely recognize as Jason Stackhouse from True Blood than from anything else. He does a competent job and he is eminently likeable but there are a few moments when he just seems lost in the part. Rounding out the cast is the beautiful Amber Valletta, the very talented Bob Gunton and Michael Fairman.
At the end of the day, there are a few scares to be had from Dead Silence what with all the grisly killings and disturbing puppets and much like other films of its ilk, Darkness Falls for one, or Saw, it is a complete film that leaves itself open for more should the producers and filmmakers wish to go there. Sadly, they did not. It is hard to say if a sequel would have redeemed what took place in this film but in all, this film was a good ‘turn your brain off’ kind of movie and one that is actually quite watchable even on multiple viewings.