Dead Silence (DVD)

I tend to find ventriloquists dummies as scary as clowns, but this tame little flick fails to raise even one goosebump. You'd expect better frm the guys who created the Saw franchise, but Dead Silence is deadly dull, with boring characters, bland dialogue and a twist ending you can see coming a mile away.

The story is about a dead old lady named Mary Shaw, who used to be a ventriloquist and is now a ghost who goes around ripping out peoples' tongues. Why? Because back in the 1940s she was hunted down and killed after being accused of kidnapping and murdering a boy (which, of course, she did). Cue present day and she send her dummy to newlyweds Jamie (Kwanten) and Lisa (Regan). The dummy kills Lisa, and removes her tongue, while Jamie is out getting dinner, so he heads back to his hick home town of Ravens Fair to unravel the mystery — persued by homicide detective Lipton (Wahlberg) who is convinced, of course, that Jamie killed his wife. Cue not enough scares or action to frighten a five-year old.

Dead Silence is trying very hard to be in the mould of the classic Hammer Horror films. It fails. It's also reminiscent of the terrific 1978 Anthony Hopkins frightener Magic, which also involved a ventriloquist's dummy, and the Child's Play series. It's nowhere near as good as any of those. If it was played for laughs it could be halfway decent, but a shoddy script and appalling acting (particularly from Wahlberg) make this a film that should have been buried along with its villain. The PR blurb that came with the disc calls it "a movie which will chill you to the bone". The only way it could do that is if you watch outdoors in your underwear in the middle of January.

EXTRAS ** Deleted scenes, an alternate opening and ending, a making-of and a couple of featurettes.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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