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Film: Dead Silence

Dead Silence is a 2007 horror movie from the makers of the Saw movie series. It has less Gorn, but the chilling horror that this film provides covers the loss.

The movie tells the story of Jamie Ashen, who receives an anonymous package containing a ventriloquist doll named Billy. Shortly after, he goes to run a quick errand, leaving his wife alone in the house with the doll. When he returns, he finds his wife dead and mutilated with her tongue torn out. Police suspect Jamie as her murderer. When he journeys to his hometown of Raven's Fair (taking the doll with him) to bury his wife and to find some answers, they send detective Jim Lipton to spy on him.

Jamie arrives to his home where he finds his aging father, Edward, has remarried to a young blonde named Ella. She reminds him of an old poem that told about Mary Shaw, a murdered ventriloquist who seeks revenge, killing and ripping out the tongues of anyone who screams upon seeing her ghost. After getting more disturbing information and warnings, Jamie decides to bury the doll, hoping this will end his torture.

To say that things go downhill from there doesn't even begin to cover it...

Warning: Some unmarked spoilers below.


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    General tropes 

This film contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents / Domestic Abuser: Jamie's father Edward is implied to have been both of these in the past.
  • Adult Fear: Your spouse is killed while you're out running an errand. If that wasn't bad enough, all evidence points to you as the murderer.
    • Your son gets kidnapped and you never find him.
  • Aside Glance: Billy does this quite a few times when no one's watching him.
  • Asshole Victim: From the moment he was shown on the screen, we all knew that Detective Jim Lipton will get what's coming to him before the end credits start rolling. Edward Ashen could also be considered an example - although we don't actually see what he was like prior to the events of the movie, it is heavily implied that he was a total dick to Jamie and his numerous wives.
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Jim Lipton to the core. Lazy, stubborn and violent jerkass.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Henry tells Jamie "If you go looking for answers, you just might find them."
  • The Bechdel Test: Fails. There are only four women with speaking lines in the film; Lisa is dead within ten minutes, Marion is a senile old woman, Mary Shaw is the film's Big Bad, and Ella is Shaw's "perfect doll." Neither of them really interact with each other, aside from one offscreen moment where Marion and Mary Shaw speak; and even then, it was technically Billy she was talking to.
  • Berserk Button: "I can see her lips moving!"
  • Big "NO!": This is what seal's Jamie's fate. Could be considered an example of Despair Event Horizon.
  • Body Horror: The most unlucky victims of Mary Shaw end up as ventriloquist dolls themselves. Mary Shaw herself is partly one due to her last wish.
    • Look at Mary Shaw's tongue, it is made from dozens of other tongues stuck together, tongues of her victims.
  • Can't Take Criticism: Mary Shaw turned Michael Ashen into a doll because he claimed to see her lips moving during her act. Never mind that she immediately won the crowd back afterwards.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Mary Shaw's scrapbook.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Marion. It's uncertain if she is insane or senile (or perhaps a bit of both).
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Marion was very justified in her fear of Mary Shaw.
  • Dead Guy Puppet: Michael Ashen ends up as a marionette made from his own body. Edward is later revealed to have been turned into a ventriloquist dummy.
  • Demonic Dummy / Creepy Doll: Even though Billy is the doll shown throughout most of the film and he is also an example, the clown doll in the rocking chair is one of the most horrifying dolls in movie history...ever.
    • It certainly doesn't help that it looks like Pennywise the Dancing Clown from It.
    • Edward is extremely creepy as a doll only from behind. This extends to the other two corpses made into dolls, as well.
  • Demonic Possession: The film was originally going to have a different take on Ella - the alternate ending and a deleted scene shows Ella as a regular human woman, who, after losing her and Edward's unborn child after he pushed her down the stairs, was drawn to Mary Shaw's resting place and ended up becoming possessed by her.
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted. It isn't the fall that kills Lipton - just the fact that he can't help but scream on the way down.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Some young, bratty child heckles you during one of your ventriloquist shows? Kill him and turn him into a puppet!
    • Mary Shaw's entire plan for revenge, really. Violently murdering the people who killed you is bad enough, but dedicating your afterlife to eliminating their entire bloodline is just abominable.
  • The Dragon: In a manner of speaking: Billy is the dummy we see the most in the film. Mary Shaw appears to have favored him in life, and most of the scares involve him somehow. Not surprising, considering how creepy he is; he's the one on the above poster.
  • The Dreaded: The people of Raven's Fair fear Mary Shaw, even years after her death. They refuse to speak her name, and one of the reasons Lipton doesn't buy Jamie's story is because no one in the town appears to have heard of her. Jamie counters that the townspeople have—- they're just that afraid of her.
  • Dummied Out: The DVD reveals an alternate opening and the slightly modified Twist Ending that accompanied it. That's right, there was originally supposed to be another twist in the ending.
  • Evil Genius: Mary Shaw made her own dummies; that would require considerable skill in woodwork and artistic design, and a general understanding of human anatomy. Turning people into dummies would also seem to require some knowledge in human biology.
  • Evil Old Folks: Mary Shaw, prior to becoming a ghost.
  • Facial Horror / Nightmare Face: The faces of Mary Shaw's victims are frozen in twisted, gruesome screams.
  • Foreshadowing: During the burning down of the theatre, Mary Shaw briefly materializes behind Michael Ashen's puppet/corpse. It doesn't seem like much at first, but later on we see that people she's turned into dummies/puppets also work as a Soul Jar for her, just like her other dummies.
  • Ghost Town: Raven's Fair.
  • Ghostly Goals: Mary Shaw wishes to "silence all those who silenced [her]."
  • Gorn: Generally avoided, but the faces of Mary's victims and Edward's hollowed-out corpse are definite examples.
  • Harmful to Minors: As a child, Henry had to deal with the trauma of seeing Mary Shaw's corpse - and, to make matters worse, he saw it after the modifications had been made. She then gets up and starts walking towards him...
  • Hope Spot: Jamie has destroyed all of Mary's dolls apart from Billy. He tracks Billy down and throws him into the fire. Now all of Mary's dolls are destroyed, everything is going to be just fine- no, sorry, the dolls she made from corpses do count. And Edward is one of them. And Ella is the "perfect doll".
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Raven's Fair.
  • Infant Immortality: Very much averted.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: 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. Or she'll cut your tongue out at the seam.
  • Kill It with Fire: How Jamie destroys Billy and rest of the dolls.
  • Lawful Stupid: Lipton.
  • Logo Joke: The Universal Studios logo at the beginning of the film uses the 1926 version.
  • May-December Romance: Edward and Ella. It's not what it seems at first, though...
  • Monster Clown: The doll Mary Shaw first talks directly to Jamie with. Combining Monster Clown and Creepy Doll into an ungodly horror.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Considering the theme of the movie, you probably want to stay away from someone known as "the perfect doll".
  • Nothing Is Scarier: As soon as everything does deathly quiet, you know some serious shit is about to go down.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: The theme tune.
  • Parent with New Paramour
  • Police Are Useless: They just carry the dead body out of the apartment and declare that the husband is the murderer, completely ignoring the lead clue. Good job!
  • Puppet Permutation: Not only are Michael and Edward turned into dolls, the ending shows that Jamie, Lisa, Henry and Lipton have all been turned into them as well. Also, Mary Shaw's final wish was to have her corpse turned into a ventriloquist doll.
  • Quieter Than Silence: One of the signs of Mary Shaw's appearance is all the normal everyday sounds slowing down, distorting, and finally fading out, leaving absolute silence behind. The only things that make any sound are the victims and her...
  • Shout-Out: In the hidden room, one of the puppets is Billy from Saw.
    • The fact that the main dummy in this film is also named Billy (and also wears the same outfit as the Saw Billy) is a further reference.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: One of the plot devices.
  • Slasher Smile: Mary Shaw is a master of this. Sweet dreams!
  • Soul Jar: Mary Shaw will stay undead until all of her 101 dolls are destroyed... oh, and the dolls she made from the corpses of Michael and Edward. Plus the "perfect doll".
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: As a ghost, Mary Shaw has eerie yellow eyes.
  • Tongue Trauma: Mary Shaw's prime method of killing is ripping out her victim's tongues... and then tying them to her own tongue to gain the victim's voice.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Raven's Fair lives in fear of Mary Shaw's ghost; it's gotten to the point that dummies are associated with death by the townspeople.
  • Twist Ending: What did you expect? This movie was made by the directors of Saw.
  • Ventriloquism
  • Weaksauce Weakness: It's heavily implied (and outright stated in the deleted scenes) Mary Shaw can only kill you if you scream while she's around. Fortunately for her, there are absolutely no deaf nor mute people to be seen in the entire film. Or somebody who CANNOT scream despite not being deaf/mute.
  • Wham Line: "She was carrying the last Ashen inside her."
  • Would Hurt a Child: Mary Shaw, as it turns out.
  • You Killed My Wife: Jamie's reason for trying to find the truth behind Mary Shaw.
    • Although the normal trope ends up applying much, MUCH too late...

    Tropes that are inherently spoilers 

Examples:


The Darjeeling LimitedFilms of 2005 - 2009 Death Sentence
The Dead PitHorror FilmsDead Snow

alternative title(s): Dead Silence
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