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"Dead Silence"
Wayne Klein
Studio: Universal Home Video
Genre: Horror
Special Features: "Making-of" featurette, visual effects featurette, deleted scenes, alternate ending, music video

"Dead Silence" is a slight but effective "Old School" horror movie before the genre slid into the pit of Torture Porn. Directed by James Wan ("Saw") and written by Leigh Whannel ("Saw", "Saw II"), it's ironic that this duo should try and reinvent the traditional horror movies that they grew up on seeing as how they helped provide the template for the hideous films of the Torture Porn genre that followed "Saw". "Saw" as was clever, was shocking and actually had merit as with any film that helps give birth to a new genre. The films that have followed have all been hideous messes of course that debase our sense of humanity. ***

Although "Dead Silence" isn't completely successful and is predictable Wan and Whannel come up with stylish looking film and a villain that Freddy Kreguer would love. Interestingly, the film borrows from "Dead of Night", "Magic" and other films of that type (including a well remembered "Twilight Zone" episode featuring Cliff Robertson) combing it with "Candy Man" and more recent horror films. ***

The 1940's Universal logo sets up the audience expectations for this old school approach (although it isn't quite a throw back to "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman"). Imagine an old fashioned 50's horror film with much more graphic visuals and you'll get a sense of what the producers were trying to achieve. Even the plot itself is something of a throwback to the gimmick horror films that William Castle produced during the 50's. ***

A mysterious package with a ventriloquist dummy shows up on Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten) and his wife's (Laura Regan) doorstep. Jamie has no idea who its front but figures it's some sort of joke. He runs out to grab Chinese take out for them and discovers that his wife has been murdered. He returns home to bury his wife and discovers that her murder was no accident-it's related to a curse placed on the townspeople. Estranged from his father (Bob Gunton), Ashen returns home to discover a new step mother (Amber Valetta) his age and that his father is something of a changed man-more accepting than before. Ashen must unravel the mystery of who sent the dummy, who killed his wife and how similar murders happened years before because he's the number one suspect in his wife's killing and is being pursued by a police detective (Donnie Wahlberg). ---

Image & Sound:

"Dead Silence" looks quite good with a nicely detailed anamorphic transfer. I really didn't detect any digital flaws. Audio sounds quite good and is nicely used to help create the suspense throughout this thriller. ---


Special Features:

Aside from an alternate ending (which spells everything out and isn't quite as good as the ending they chose), we also get deleted scenes, a visual effects featurette, a "making-of" featurette as well as a music video. Sadly, we don't get any commentary track. -

Final Words:

An enjoyable if slight attempt to reinvent the traditional horror film, "Dead Silence" is enjoyable if predictable. Universal has done a nice job of adding extras to this film (it didn't do well at the box office) and transferring it for DVD.


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