Movie junkie Jessie Robbins picks a fright flick for a Saturday night.


Rarely do I find a man who is kind, clean-shaven, sharply dressed, big mechanically blinking eyes, silent unless I tell him what to say and has a nicely separated jaw.  Wait, no, that’s ventriloquist dummies.  Hah!  That would have been weird.

Dummies get a bad rap, they’re a very under-utilized villain in horror films (Fats and Slappy notwithstanding).  Sure they can be hokey and unrealistic, but a well-executed dummy massacre is a treasure.  On theme with last week’s “Comfort Food” horror flick, I’d like to introduce another of my go-to favourite films.  One of the earlier works by my industry crushes James Wan and Leigh Whannell. Yes, I want to talk about DEAD SILENCE (2007).

It is no secret how Whannell feels about DEAD SILENCE, he wrote at length about his negative early experiences in the industry on his blog.  He and Wan had a very different idea for the film and it didn’t come out how they had planned at all.  All things considered, I not-so-secretly love this movie, and I have found that it has slowly been growing a cult-following as of late, as it should.

Back in the 1940’s, a ventriloquist named Mary Shaw was accused of kidnapping a boy who exposed her secrets on stage at one of her shows.  After the townspeople caught her, they cut out her tongue, murdered her, and buried her with her dolls, the only trace of her existence left behind, her abandoned theater off a small island nearby.  There’s even a catchy and scary-ass childhood rhyme about her!

Beware the stare of Mary Shaw,

She had no children, only dolls,

And if you see her in your dreams,

Be sure you never, ever scream.

Flash forward to 2007, Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten, True Blood) after discovering his wife brutally murdered and a creepy ventriloquist dummy delivered to his front door travels back to his hometown of Ravens Fair to uncover the mystery of Mary Shaw.

This is a very deceiving movie.  I continue to forget how scary it is until I’ve started watching it again.  I’ll be bored, alone at home, wishing I had something to do and I’ll think “Hey I haven’t seen DEAD SILENCE in a while,” and then a half an hour in I’m hiding under blankets death-gripping a teddy bear.

Mary Shaw is one of the scariest effing villains I have ever seen.  She learns the names of all of her victims like a wendigo and beckons for them from dark corners. Once she gets the victim in her sights, she claims their tongues and tacks them onto the end of her own, resulting in this giant, wet, snake of a thing. Seriously.  She’s terrifying.  I’m freaking myself out just writing this. Mary Shaw’s voice is ingrained in my mind and I’m afraid I’ll continue to hear it in my nightmares for the rest of my life.

Donnie Wahlberg also stars as stereotypical Detective Lipton, pursuing Jamie for the murder of his wife and acting as comedic relief.  He is hilarious in this role, what’s with the electric razor?

While a little hokey in itself, abhorred by the creators and a box-office failure (man, I’m really selling this one), DEAD SILENCE is a really creepy flick that I hope will haunt you like it haunts me. Just make sure whatever you do while watching…

Don’t scream.