Dead Silence (2007)
Silence is golden
What do you get when you team Donnie Wahlberg up with a group of creepy dummies? If you said a hit album and a sold out concert tour, you are correct. However, if you said the greatest and scariest horror film of all-time, you are also correct.
In Dead Silence, a young couple (Jamie and Lisa) receives a surprise package at their doorstep. They open it up to reveal a ventriloquist dummy named Billy. I’m sure you are all aware that no good can come from receiving an unsolicited ventriloquist dummy. The film proves this when Lisa is killed later that same night – not just killed, but also had her tongue ripped out.
Jamie immediately suspects that Billy is at fault, and discovers that he was created by a woman named Mary Shaw, who happens to be from his hometown. So he grabs Billy, and goes home on a fact-finding mission.
Now if a ventriloquist dummy had killed someone in my family, I would probably not take it on a road trip with me. I would flee the house immediately, and wait for the dummy to be forced out of the house by the mortgage company for not paying the bills. Maybe that makes me a coward.
While Jamie learns more about Marie Shaw, a murdered ventriloquist who had a vendetta against his family, he must also deal with Detective Jim Lipton (Wahlberg), who believes Jamie is responsible for his wife’s demise.
Wahlberg delivers the performance of his career in Dead Silence. I’ve always said if you want to make an underwear commercial, hire Mark Wahlberg. But if you want to make a great film, hire big brother Donnie. While you may associate him with the bubblegum pop songs and flashy dance moves he is showcasing during the current New Kids on the Block reunion tour, he is the total opposite of that in this film. He’s very gruff and masculine, so masculine in fact that he is constantly shown shaving throughout the film. Seriously, while interrogating Jamie, and the next few times we see him, he is walking around with an electric razor. Mr. Wahlberg, you’ve got the right stuff, and step-by-step, you are building up quite the acting resume.
In the hunt for the truth, Jamie and Detective Lipton find themselves in an abandoned theatre – well, not quite abandoned. Jamie and Detective Lipton are soon surrounded by dozens of ventriloquist dummies, each more frightening than the next. Especially the clown dummy, which they discover seated on an old wooden chair, rocking itself back and forth ominously. I get chills running down my spine just typing that last sentence.
Dead Silence is a truly terrifying film. I haven’t been able to sleep a wink since seeing it. This is probably a good thing, since I watched it this morning, and then headed straight for work afterwards. I just hope I’m not seeing visions of that clown dummy when I lay my head down to sleep tonight. Even if I do, I still will not regret watching this masterpiece.
Not only does it work as a horror film, but it is also a fitting homage to legendary puppeteer/puppet combinations of the past, like Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog, Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop, and Dick Cheney and George W. Bush.
Don’t be a dummy – get yourself a copy of Dead Silence.