Dead Silence

Rated R 2007

Terror takes a drink of water and talks simultaneously as the makers of Saw bring you the ultimate in ventriloquist horror! Actually, what they've very nearly brought is a retarded classic to rival that previous Donnie Wahlberg ass-terpiece Dreamcatcher -- a shocker so silly, it practically fogs the theater with beer-burp fumes. Director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell announce they're kickin' it old-school right from the James Whale-era Universal logo: The movie is a throwback to old-dark-house chillers with the merest splash of gore, as a grieving widower (Ryan Kwanten) traces his wife's grisly demise back to his hometown, which consists of a spooky mansion, empty streets, an eerie motel, a funeral home -- and oh yeah, that creepy old theater once run by the evil ventriloquist with the 101 lifelike dummies. Dolls are innately unnerving, but the movie's semi-menacing Charlie McCarthys never live up to their potential; the same is true of the filmmakers' two clever William Castle-style gimmicks -- a visual scheme leached of its color except lurid reds, and a soundtrack that mutes the ambient noise whenever mayhem lurks. As creaky nonsense goes, though, this is chock-full of corny goodness down to its hilarious sense-shredding "twist," which the movie reveals like a magician proudly unveiling a dead rabbit.

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Dead Silence

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