Having grown up in Ravens Fair both Jamie (Ryan Kwanten) and his wife Lisa (Laura Regan) know the urban legend and poem surrounding Mary Shaw (Judith Roberts), a ventriloquist who was accused of kidnapping a young boy which resulted in the townsfolk cutting out her tongue in revenge. They are reminded of this when out of the blue they receive a parcel from an anonymous sender back home containing a ventriloquist's dummy. But when Lisa is horrifically murdered with her tongue cut out it leads to Jamie returning to Ravens Fair to get to the bottom of what is going on. And he is followed by Det. Lipton (Donnie Wahlberg) who is as mystified about Lisa's murder as Jamie and sceptical when Jamie says he believes the dummy was involved.
I once watched a ventriloquist put on a show, truth be told he wasn't very good and a few times he was heckled as people could see his lips move, but what this ventriloquist possessed was a great dummy and the ability to operate it in a masterful way. And that is the strength of the movie "Dead Silence" as those behind the design, operation and staging of the various ventriloquist dummies in this movie knew the power that a well designed and operated dummy can have over an audience. Just the way the pupils appear to enlarge when a light flashes across them all contributes to that creepiness which makes these dummies ideal props. And there are a lot of them in "Dead Silence" with numerous scenes which suck you in and have you on tenterhooks because of those damn creepy dummies.
But truth be told whilst "Dead Silence" certainly entertained when I started to look beyond the dummies I found myself kind of disappointment. Part of that comes from early on there is the sort of writing where back story is fed to you on the proverbial spoon such as when Lisa recites the poem about Mary Shaw. But also part of the issue is once the storyline starts to be put in place and we learn that Mary Shaw was not only a bit crazy but had her tongue cut out that you quickly put two and two together to work out that this is another one of those revenge movies where those whose ancestors were responsible are now being targeted.
Now don't worry as there are a few surprises and even dummy cameo appearances so I haven't told you everything and there is even a "Saw" style scene where in a quick montage we see all the clues which Jamie unknowingly stumbled across. On the subject of Jamie the acting from Ryan Kwanten is solid as are many of the performances with Judith Roberts standing out for the right reasons as Mary. Unfortunately the casting of Donnie Wahlberg didn't work so well and he ended up forcing the quirky nature of his character and over acting for most of his scenes.
What this all boils down to is that "Dead Silence" is a good horror movie but mostly because of the team behind the dummies doing such a great job of making them creepy. But whilst not exactly disappointing I would have loved more originality when it came to the storyline as what was the back bone of this movie ended up a little too routine.