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Dead Silence (2007)

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Dead Silence

Dead SilenceStarring Donnie Wahlberg, Judith Roberts, Ryan Kwanten, Amber Valletta

Directed by James Wan


It seems like forever since the first Saw film took the world by storm, and as the third installment in the series gets ready to hit theaters, we’re still waiting around to see director James Wan’s sophomore effort, Dead Silence (formerly titled simply Silence).

Here’s the premise: Jamie Ashen (Kwanten) is spending a quiet evening in his apartment with his wife when there is a knock at the door. He opens the door to find a large package left at his doorstep. There’s no return address, just his name written on the outside. He tears it open to find an old case. Inside this case is a ventriloquist dummy…and nothing else.

They don’t know what to make of it and, after some discussion, continue to go about their business. Jamie leaves to go pick up dinner and returns to find his wife murdered and himself the main suspect. Determined to find out the connection between the mysterious doll and his wife’s death, his search brings him back to his hometown of Raven’s Fair, where he uncovers the story of the late ventriloquist Mary Shaw and why he has ended up with one of her 101 dolls. The ghost of Mary Shaw supposedly haunts the almost vacant town, and as the legend tells, she will take the tongue of any victim she hears scream.
deadsilence2bDead Silence
starts off strong and quick, but then the pace slows, a device that is necessary to tell a good ghost story, and that’s exactly what Dead Silence is at the heart: a good old-fashioned ghost story. I am happy to see that James Wan and writing partner Leigh Whannell decided to do something different, and while that may turn some Saw fans off, that’s why we have Saw II & III, right?

Wan’s directing style has only improved, and this time around he had a budget to really show off his abilities. This film looks very different from Saw; gone is the Fincher style of lighting a la Seven, replaced with a more Gothic tone this time around, which gives it a much grander feel. Visually it’s kind of a throwback to the old Hammer horror films but with a modern-day edge.

One of the things I was most impressed with was the sound design. Wan’s use of sound is crucial to this particular story; whenever the ghost makes an appearance, all natural sound seems to slow to a complete halt, and the subsequent silence is creepy as hell!

If I have any complaints, they stem from some of the performances. Ryan Kwanten is decent but doesn’t really set the world on fire. I didn’t find myself caring much about his character and was more interested in the story surrounding him. Michael Fairman, who plays Henry, the town’s mortician, was a bit over-the-top in his performance and not very believable. However, ex-New Kid Donnie (Saw II) Wahlberg was quite good as the cocky wise-cracking detective watching Jamie’s every move. The stand-out is Judith Roberts as Mary Shaw, who gives a chilling performance that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

deadsilence1bIf you go in expecting the kind of blood loss featured in the Saw films, you may be disappointed, though I can happily say there is some gore and there are some very badass effects and make-up designs in Dead Silence. More importantly what the film delivers is scares. The Saw films shock more than they scare, but with this film Wan proves his ability to terrify an audience as well.

I was glad to see that Wan and Whannell went on a different path and created something that may show Saw‘s influences but isn’t following the current horror trends that, let’s face it, they helped start. The only thing I found out of place was the ending. They end the film with a twist that, while clever, is completely unnecessary. I don’t want to give too much away, but I can say this: Dead Silence ends nearly the same way Saw does, down to using the same music during the big twist (which I’m guessing is only temporary since I saw a rough cut).

Overall I left the film very happy with what I had just seen and actually looking forward to seeing it again. No word on when Universal is planning on releasing the film…or what title it will be under when they do, but we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as we hear the details.

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7 GUARDIANS OF THE TOMB Review – Rest Easy, Indiana Jones, There’s Not Much To See Here

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Starring Kellan Lutz, Bingbing Li, Kelsey Grammar

Directed by Kimble Rendall


If it only weren’t for those friggin’ spiders. Kimble Rendall’s adventurous flick, 7 Guardians Of The Tomb is one of those “wanted to be, yet couldn’t quite hit the mark” action-films that will probably entertain those looking for some cave-dwelling escapades caught on celluloid, but for the more picky aficionado of said slam-bang pics, this one might be viewed as a bit stagnant. Let’s strap on our mining helmets and pick around this one, shall we?

Acting as a bit of a search-and-rescue formation, the movie tails alongside Dr. Jia Lee (Li) as she hunts down the whereabouts of her missing brother after losing contact with him while he was on expedition in Western China. Apparently he was looking for a secretive Emperor’s tomb that supposedly holds a potion that can reanimate, or re-invigorate…or rehabilitate – anyway you slice it, the juice has got some pretty potent powers. So a search team is assembled, led by Mason (Grammar – glad someone got Frasier off of the barstool), and he’s latched onto all-American fella Jack (Lutz) to assist this operation. As it turns out, the initial journey is cut off fairly quick when a violent electrical storm forces the group to head underground, and that’s when things get creepy and crawly…like 8-legged style. The film is ripe with some feverish action and a few decent performances, but it’s the overall framework that acts as the big bully, tauntingly kicking sand in the little guy’s face at the beach.

We’ve got love interests, a flurry of backstories, and oh my lord, those spiders! Yep, even the heartiest of CGI can effectively ruin a good case of the willies when it comes to arachnids and their powers of sucking humans and animals dry of their lifeforce. It’s an intently goofy movie, and even the dialogue seems a bit showy at times, leaving plausibility and intelligence at the entrance to the caves. Lutz is fun to watch as the burly rescuer, and he looks as the type who is just waiting for his cinematic moment to step into the spotlight. What pains me is that this movie really could have been something much bigger, and apparently it looks as if the majority of the film’s budget was wasted on those hokey-looking computerized spiders.

All in all, 7 Guardians Of The Tomb is spotty entertainment, even if you despise those little skittering aphids racing towards you, programmed or not. Give it a peek if Raiders Of The Lost Ark isn’t readily available at your disposal…even that crappy Crystal Skull one.

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2.5

Summary

A film that could have been so much more adventure-wise instead comes off looking like a lesson in how not to waste too much time on computer imagery.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 160 – A QUIET PLACE

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Lately, it seems as though comedy actors are cutting their teeth as horror directors and absolutely killing it! This year’s indie horror darling comes in the form of John Krasinki’s A Quiet Place. Chris has been sick as a dog, so the haomie Christine from Horrible Imaginings Film Fest is filling in to discuss whether A Quiet Place is 2018’s horror heavyweight, or just a lot of noise.

What Bruno took was what changed me; it only amplifies your essence. It simply makes you more of what you already are. It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 160!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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THE DEVIL AND FATHER AMORTH Review: Friedkin Goes Mondo Catholic

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Starring Father Gabriele Amorth

Directed by William Friedkin


Hitting theaters this weekend in NYC and LA is William Friedkin’s new documentary, The Devil and Father Amorth. And right away I am asked: “Is it ‘good’?” You don’t watch a documentary like this with that in mind. Faces of Death, Traces of Death, Mondo Cane. They are not here to be “good”—they are beyond words like that. Beyond good and bad.

It is more like the sideshow—Behold! See what has not been seen before! The Horror! The Forbidden! And you hand the man your ticket — you see The Arabian Giantess at the flea market in New Jersey, and maybe it is a sleight of hand and made of papier-mâché, but it was worth that dollar, and now you have a story. You have bought your way into the unknown.

The Devil and Father Amorth is light on science (and length – it runs just 68 minutes) and heavy on faith. If you have been exposed to Friedkin’s — or more specifically, William Peter Blatty’s — work, there is the struggle with belief in the Roman Catholic faith, and also in the search for evidence of the miracle. You could also prove the Force of Divine Good if you could face the opposite side of the coin—the Force of Evil, in the vernacular of Catholicism—the Devil himself. Paradoxical, yes—faith exists without proof; and so what is the drive to tell the world God exists, the Devil exists?

In the documentary we learn Rome is filled with the possessed. Hundreds of people are contacting the Church about their own possession or the possession of their loved ones. The Most Holy Father Amorth is the person the Vatican has tapped to perform exorcisms—thousands of them. And sometimes he has repeat business. Christina is one such woman, exorcised nine times and still susceptible to the Force of Evil. Those of us who are non-believers look at this woman as someone who is troubled—but “through the eyes of faith,” obviously it is a demon.

Surrounded by her family, the rite begins, and you see… an actual exorcism. There is no enhancement, no Dick Smith make-up; it is not as dramatic as we want it to be. Should we get her help that is not in the form of a witch doctor? What about doctors? And so we meet them.

Friedkin brings the footage to top hospitals in NYC. Psychologists give their point of view. Then neurosurgeons. They don’t know what’s going on—the exorcism seems to help, but they do see that it might be a cultural remnant. There is a medical diagnosis for it, as it can affect anyone of any faith. But the doc never digs too deep. I am disappointed: I needed to know more. I don’t believe it.

Are they hurting Christina? Is she just another female the Church is suppressing, as they did with witches—the control, the stigma, of the female body and identity? None of this is explored because it’s just a 1-dollar ticket under the striped tent, just left of the dancing girls and the strong man—Actual! Exorcist! Footage! Hurry up and see!

As Friedkin mentioned himself, when someone asks you to film an exorcism, you say yes. So see it for the freak show. Expect nothing else. And either you believe or you don’t, based on how you were raised — mythology, religion, or superstition.

  • The Devil and Father Amorth
2.0

Summary

See it for the freak show. Expect nothing else.

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