Monday, October 13, 2014

Film #13: 'Dead Silence'

If you've already seen this 'Dead Silence' read something waaaaaaaay (read: infinitely) more interesting than anything I could write about it, its screenwriter Leigh Whannell's personal blog entry on the origins of the film and why he hates Hollywood and, in particular, this film.

You know what are creepy? Dolls. Always have been, always will be. It takes very little effort for a film to convince me of that.
What it does take effort to do is convince me that they are scary.
Yes, as lifeless people shaped things they are the perfect vessels for people to project their neuroses or fears on to, so why not feature them front and center in a horror film. It's worked before, right?



'Dead Silence' is about a man, Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten), whose wife is murdered after receiving a mysterious ventriloquist's dummy delivered to their home. After this he decides to return to his how town where stories about a ghost of a murdered ventriloquist may hold the secret to his wife's death.

Ventriloquist dummy's are the gimmick in this ghost story, and I say 'gimmick' because this is a movie laden with gimmicks. From the dolls to the detective who's always shaving with an electric razor to the creepy ghost woman to the obligatory 'twist' ending to the bllleeeeeurgh!

It's also a film that relies heavily of leaps of logic and convenience to move the story onwards. When the detective (Donnie Wahlberg) is introduced he has nothing but contempt for Ashen, ridiculing his idea that a dummy could be involved, then allowing Ashen to leave, to go home where all of the evidence can easily be sifted through. When Ashen heads to his home town, with the dummy in tow, the detective follows him for the sole purpose of finding the doll, then - for no f**king reason - proceeds to dig up an entire cemetery's worth of shallow graves (100 in total) to find any other dolls which may exist in the town, leading him back to Ashen just in time to head to the old theatre in time for the ending.

And that's just one character, I've no idea why anyone in this film does anything except to keep a lot of stock cheap set-ups for scares and set-pieces and non sequiturs. 

The main character, Jamie Ashen, actions make no sense at all. He's disbelieving urban legends, then burying dolls in a cemetery, then creeping along the only unsteady gangway in a theatre across after rowing an old boat across a foggy pond to a dilapidated pier to some other generic creepy location, and even if he did make sense it doesn't matter. No one likes him.

You won't notice it if you watch 'Dead Silence' in normal conditions but the film has a catchphrase. I watched it in a loud house, so had subtitles on the whole time, and throughout the entire film '[ambient noise dies]' features so many times that the 'spooky' effect is rendered pointless. The total death-count for the film is only about 4, but this increases into the double digits if we could the number of times 'ambient noise' is killed off.

This film is tedious, distilled tediousness. A mixed-bag of everything you've seen before and would expect to see in this type of ghost story. No imagination or energy went into any aspect of this film. The screenwriter described the 'process' for creating the film on his personal blog and it's hard to argue that such a poisonous experience could have resulted in a less worthwhile movie.

If you like jump-scares, this film has a few. If you think ventriloquist dummy are scary, there are many. If you think the bottom of the barrel has yet to be scraped on the "creepy women in black haunting things" genre, this is the film for you.

Out of 10, I'd rate this film:
Give me a chance to watch 'Annabelle' and I may have found a more useless movie than this out of 10.

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