Old ladies, ventriloquist dummies, decrepit small-towns, and dolls are all exploited for their full creepy potential in DEAD SILENCE, a relatively innocent but thoroughly scary horror feature from the makers of SAW. After a heavily stylised black-and-white opening credit sequence that shows the story's central ghost, Mary Shaw, constructing her beloved ventriloquist dolls back in her heyday, the film transports viewers to the present. As newlyweds Jamie (Ryan Kwanten) and Lisa Ashen potter lovingly about their apartment far from their hometown of Raven’s Fair, it is clear that something bad is about to happen. This dread is only further cemented when a knock on the door leads the lovebirds to discover an unmarked box containing a worn but eerily lifelike ventriloquist's dummy. When Jamie goes out to pick up some takeout, he returns to find his wife's mangled body (minus her tongue) propped up like the dummy seemingly responsible for her death.
With detective Jim Lipton (Donnie Wahlberg) on his heels, and a very guilty dummy in his passenger seat, grieving Jamie returns to Raven's Fair with the hunch that his wife's death is linked to the town's murdered ventriloquist, Mary Shaw. Once grand, Raven's Fair is now in a state of decay, and many of its inhabitants have died mysterious and brutal deaths in the years since Jamie was last home. Jamie arrives at his wealthy father's home, only to find a young new bride (Amber Valetta) by his side. No one wants to talk about Mary Shaw, let alone whisper her name. If Jamie is going to get to the bottom of the Mary Shaw legend, he'll have to face the town's past on his own. Arriving in the midst of the gore/torture trend (SAW, HOSTEL), DEAD SILENCE comes as a breath of fresh air. It's nice to see that a horror movie can still use gore with discretion and deliver a fright through old-fashioned scare tactics and a premise as simple as a ghost story.
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