Dave White
Dead Silence Review

Dave's Rating:

4.0

… consistently surprising.

Who's in It: Ryan Kwanten, Donnie Wahlberg, Amber Valletta, Michael Fairman, Bob Gunton, Laura Regan, Judith Roberts

The Basics: A spooky ventriloquist dummy that sort of looks like Joel Grey in Cabaret gets delivered to a young married couple. Then the wife's tongue is ripped out. Remembering an old ghost story from his childhood (one about ventriloquism and a curse and tongues being ripped out), he runs off to his hometown to find the answers. Following him every step of the way in cranky disbelief is the detective from the Saw movies. Well, same actor anyway — former New Kid Donnie Wahlberg.

What's the Deal? It's a straight-up ghost story, which means it's not especially scary, but here's what it's got going for it: It's creepy; it has a budget behind it to make sure the atmospheric details like good lighting and makeup and effects are on-point; it's never dull, and as long as you're willing to believe in the premise, it stays consistently surprising. And the dolls are really upsetting. Because ventriloquist dolls, pretty much by definition, are frightening.

Pedigree: From the creators of the Saw series. And to their credit, they don't spend a lot of time aping the aesthetic of those movies. This one owes more to spooky old Hammer horror films. Lots of dark shadows and cobwebs and broken-down old buildings. Stuff like that. And if you're expecting supergore, then you'll be disappointed.

My Only Beef: They make you wait forever for the multi-doll payoff, when the trailer makes it seem like they're in play for the whole movie.

Blink and You'll Miss: The freaky doll from Saw that's inserted into a couple of shots. It's not hard to find. At the screening I just attended, it prompted a lot of chatter and "Hey, check it out" from the audience.

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