Underrated Horror Movies: Dead Silence

Something about dolls, puppets, and ventriloquist dummies is just inherently creepy. Maybe it’s their staring eye, their garishly-colored bodies, or something else that feels as though it’s simply…wrong. Whatever it is tends to make for great cinema since there have been plenty of movies concerning these miniature human-shaped monsters. Dolls, Child’s Play, The Puppetmaster, Annabelle, you name it, the horror aspect is there. Dead Silence is one of those movies that might have flown under the radar a bit, but the creepy nature of this movie is still present, even if it’s a bit simplistic when looking at the overall story. The story of Mary Shaw, a noted ventriloquist, is one that reads kind of like an elderly, female Freddy Krueger, especially since once she’s humiliated in front of a crowd she’s accused of kidnapping the young boy that pointed out that he could see her mouth moving. The woman was killed by the townsfolk and buried along with her dolls, the only ‘children’ that she’d ever had. All in all, the movie is kind of ridiculous while it tries to create a serious atmosphere around its premise. 

This doesn’t really work obviously, but it’s a good try all the same and it’s fair to say that there are plenty of terrifying moments in the movie that don’t get drowned out by the silly nature of it. Keeping in mind that it’s usually the people that scoff at the notion that dolls can be dangerous in horror movies, this idea does have some merit since as conduits for spirits, dolls do appear to be a rather satisfactory method to bedevil the living. Plus, the way that Mary Shaw ends up being able to slip into one doll after another as easily as some put on a pair of slippers is enough to give a person a few nightmares, especially if they happen to collect dolls of any type. Imagine an old-fashioned porcelain doll coming to life and finding a way to do some damage. Or rather, think of one of the three-foot-tall plastic dolls coming to life and causing a bit of mayhem. 

There were a few ways that this movie could have been a little more terrifying, but at the core of the story, it was creepy enough when one really thinks about it since one thing that any horror movie can rely on is that it has a strong premise. Anything after that is up to the director, the actors, and those working on the movie. If things go well, then a movie can generally hold its collective head high even if the critics decide to be a bit brutal. The reason there’s still a bit of promise in Dead Silence is that it does have an average to strong premise, and had it gone any better, or had the director decided to go a little darker with it, things would have been a lot different. As it was, this movie just barely made its budget back, thereby making it as close to a failure as it could be, which in turn makes it obvious why a lot of people haven’t been talking about this movie for quite a while. That’s pretty cold to do to any movie, but especially to one that had a lot of promise and could be turned into something that might actually be worth quite a bit more with a remake. 

Whether that will ever happen doesn’t appear to be up for debate, but one never knows since really, stories about murderous puppets might always be popular enough to consider since it’s the type of horror story that a lot of people don’t see coming more often than not. The terror that surrounds such a story is the uncertainty of whether a person can trust something that’s fashioned in the likeness of a human being, but has an expression that might look innocent but could be harboring a murderous intent that people don’t ever think about. It sounds like paranoia, doesn’t it? a lot of people might laugh uproariously at the idea of a spirit inhabiting a doll of any type since they might wonder what such a thing could ever do to pose a threat. That’s fair to be honest unless the guiding spirit obtained the ability to manipulate the doll in such a way that it could truly become a living terror. 

When all is said and done though, Dead Silence was not the worst horror movie ever created since it did have an element of surprise and terror that, to those like myself, stems from the mistrust of any kind of effigy of humanity, even those that are created to have fun with. A movie like this definitely makes me think that the Funko Pops in my office could be up to something now and again. 

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