Dead Silence (2007)

(On Cable TV, September 2016) Let’s be clear: Dead Silence is not a particularly good movie. Even as a horror film, it doesn’t reach high, contents itself with much of the usual claptrap of the genre and doesn’t leave much to ponder in terms of themes. After all: killer ventriloquist dolls? Oh, boy. But it does have a few things going for it: A slightly unusual structure in which revenge becomes a motivating driver; some very effective set design (that isolated theatre, in the middle of a lake … wow!), and a completely bonkers final twist that has to be seen to be believed. Screenwriter Leigh Whannell is on record as being dismissive of the result (there was, apparently, much studio interference), but director/collaborator James Wan does manage a few interesting things along the way—to a point where Dead Silence is a good choice for fans of his later movies such as the much-better The Conjuring. Again: It’s not good, but it certainly works well enough to warrant a look, especially if you’re expecting a merely mediocre horror film.

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