DEAD SILENCEUnited States-2007

Ryan Kwanten as Jamie Ashen

Amber Valletta as Ella Ashen

Donnie Wahlberg as Det. Lipton

Bob Gunton (w/Amber Valletta) as Edward Ashen

Directed by James Wan

Screenplay by Leigh Whannell

Story by James Wan and Leigh Whannell

Ventriloquist dolls creep me out. James Wan movies such as Saw and Insidious creep me out. So what does Dead Silence, which was directed by Wan (Death Sentence) and written by collaborator Leigh Whannell do to me?

You guessed it; creeped me the fuck out. Let’s break it all down.

Jamie (Ryan Kwanten aka Jason Stackhouse, True Blood) receives a ventriloquist dummy from an unknown sender.

While Jamie makes a late night run for take-out, his wife is brutally murdered, her tongue ripped out. There is no sign of forced entry or any indication that there was anyone else in the apartment with her; only the ventriloquist doll and he’s not talking.

Jamie, now a person of interest in his wife’s murder, finds evidence that the doll belonged to Mary Shaw. He remembers an old rhyme about her that warns that if you ever see her in your dreams to never, ever scream.

He returns to his home town of Ravens Fair to find answers to the legend of Mary Shaw and answers to who murdered his wife. He comes home to a mother-in-law (Amber Valletta, Hitch) who’s young enough to be his sister; and a father (Bob Gunton, The Shawshank Redemption) who is as stiff and formal as he ever was. He also finds that the rest of the town is deathly afraid to speak the name of Mary Shaw.

Did I mention that Jamie was a person of interest in his wife’s murder? That means that he wasn’t supposed to leave town. Therefore, that means he’s tailed to Ravens Fair by a detective (Donnie Wahlberg, The Sixth Sense) who has a lot of doubts about his innocence and who doesn’t believe in all that legend of Mary Shaw crap.

I’m not going to say anything more about the movie. To do so would lead me to say too much and to give away a neat little twist of an ending that has to be seen to be believed. Dead Silence is one of those movies that I find to be ridiculous to write about. It’s about an old woman and her collection of dolls, for heaven’s sake. However, note that I said ‘write about’. Watching this was a beast of a different color altogether. Damn thing creeped me the fuck out.

I don’t creep out too easily.


There are two different versions of the “Mary Shaw” poem. In the movie the poem goes, “Beware the stare of Mary Shaw. She had no children only dolls. And if you see her in your dreams, do not ever, ever scream.” On the trailer it was, “Beware the stare of Mary Shaw. She had no children, only dolls. And if you see her do not scream, she’ll rip your tongue out at the seam.”

“Billy” was not only the name of one of the dummies in this movie, but also the name of the puppet used by the Jigsaw killer in the “Saw” movies, also created by Leigh Whannell and James Wan.

During the climax, in the storage area with all 101 dolls, you can see Jigsaw’s doll from the Saw films sitting on the floor, and Edgar Bergen’s doll Charlie McCarthy on one of the shelves. The doll that Detective Lipton throws over his shoulder in this scene is a replica of ventriloquist Jimmy Nelson’s doll, Danny O’Day.

The film was made into a haunted house at Universal’s “Halloween Horror Nights” in 2007 in Florida.


21 thoughts on “DEAD SILENCE

  1. I liked this film but it doesn’t get a lot of respect from horror fans. This is no Chucky, it has an interesting back story and borders more on a ghost story rather than a ‘doll comes to life’ story. Glad to see some one else give it props, too!

  2. Nice write up buddy!

    Being a huge Saw/Whannel/Wan fan, I love anything they do. Whannel said on his blog recently that they got this movie made because after Saw was so successful, they had to pitch an idea for another film they could get made. They joked around with a creepy doll premise and this film got made. They werent huge fans of how it turned out, but just wanted to get another film done. Funny how things turn out 🙂

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