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Dead Silence is a 2007 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan and written by Leigh Whannell, the creators of Saw. The film stars Ryan Kwanten, Judith Roberts, Donnie Wahlberg, and Amber Valletta.[2] While the movie did receive negative reviews at its release, it has since gathered a cult following.

Dead Silence
Dead silence.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJames Wan
Produced byGregg Hoffman
Oren Koules
Mark Burg
Screenplay byLeigh Whannell
Story byJames Wan
Leigh Whannell
StarringRyan Kwanten
Amber Valletta
Donnie Wahlberg
Michael Fairman
Joan Heney
Bob Gunton
Judith Roberts
Laura Regan
Music byCharlie Clouser
CinematographyJohn R. Leonetti
Edited byMichael Knue
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • March 16, 2007 (2007-03-16)
Running time
89 minutes
92 minutes (Unrated cut)
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 million[1]
Box office$22.2 million[1]



Jamie Ashen and his wife, Lisa, receive an anonymous gift of a ventriloquist doll called "Billy". While Lisa is playing with Billy, a figure approaches her, causing her to scream. Later, Jamie returns home and finds her dead with her tongue cut out. After Jamie is released from custody by Detective Jim Lipton due to lack of evidence, he spots inside Billy's box a mysterious message about "Mary Shaw", a deceased ventriloquist from his hometown, Raven's Fair.

At Raven's Fair, Jamie visits his estranged and wealthy father, Edward, who uses a wheelchair, and his much-younger wife, Ella, for information regarding Mary Shaw. Dismissing them as superstitions, Jamie arranges for Lisa's funeral with the help of a local mortician named Henry Walker. Jamie meets Henry's senile wife, Marion, who tells him of the danger of Mary and her puppet, Billy. After burying Billy, Jamie is confronted by Detective Lipton in his motel room, the latter still doubting Jamie, and digs up Billy, after Jamie leaves the cemetery where Mary Shaw and the rest of her dummies are buried.

Henry tells Jamie that Mary Shaw was a famous ventriloquist who was publicly humiliated when a young boy named Michael rudely claimed that he could see her lips moving during one of her performances. Some weeks later, Michael disappeared, and his family blamed it on Shaw and lynched her. Mary's last wish was to have her body turned into a dummy and buried with her 101 dolls. Henry, then the young son of the local mortician, saw Shaw (after she was turned to a dummy) rise up, but was spared thanks to his having kept his mouth shut, because Shaw takes her revenge by killing only those who scream. Jamie then finds out that Michael, who was indeed the first victim, was his great-uncle. Since the Ashen family were the ones who killed Mary by making her scream so they could cut her tongue out, she has been seeking revenge against their entire bloodline by killing them in the same way.

While crawling under the house after discovering Marion with the Billy puppet, Henry is killed by Shaw, who steals his tongue. Detective Lipton discovers that all of Shaw's dolls have been dug up, and informs Jamie, who receives a call from "Henry", asking him to go to Shaw's theatre. There, both Jamie and Detective Lipton discover 100 of the dolls lined up with Michael's body, which has been turned into a marionette. Through a clown doll, Shaw reveals to Jamie that she killed Lisa because, unbeknownst to Jamie, she was pregnant with his son, thereby killing any potential newborn of the Ashen family. Jamie and Lipton then burn the theatre and all of Shaw's dolls, though in the process, Shaw successfully makes Detective Lipton scream and kills him.

Back at his father's residence, Jamie is confronted by Mary Shaw, but he repels her by throwing Billy (the 101st and last of the remaining dummies) into the fireplace. He then learns, much to his horror, that his father had already died long ago; the current "Edward" is actually a doll converted from his corpse and controlled by Ella, who is the "perfect doll" for Shaw, created just before her death. Jamie then screams as Ella, possessed by Mary Shaw, lunges at him.

The film ends with Jamie reciting a nursery rhyme about Shaw and a photo album with human puppets is shown: Lisa, Henry, Detective Lipton, Edward, Ella, and Jamie himself.



Dead Silence was released in the United States on March 16, 2007,[3] with an "R" rating.

Box officeEdit

In the United States, as of April 16, 2007, the film's total domestic gross has been worth US$16.5 million (according to Box Office Mojo), and screenings of Dead Silence were ceased in most theatres sixteen days following its release; the film's estimated production budget was US$20 million. As of April 1, 2009, US$5,408,331 has been generated globally. Worldwide the film has grossed $22,217,407.[4] Tentative plans for a sequel were abandoned.[citation needed]

Critical receptionEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 21%, based on 77 reviews, with an average rating of 3.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "More tasteful than recent slasher flicks, but Dead Silence is undone by boring characters, bland dialogue, and an unnecessary and obvious twist ending."[5] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 34 out of 100, based on 15 reviews, indicating "generally unfavourable reviews".[6]

Home mediaEdit

The film was released on DVD on June 26, 2007 with an "unrated" version also released, and the same occurred for the HD DVD product. The film has since grossed US$17,304,718 in overall DVD sales.[7]

Dead Silence was released on Blu-ray Disc in the United Kingdom on October 25, 2010.[8] In May 2015, it was announced that Universal Studios would be releasing the film to Blu-ray Disc in the U.S. It released on August 11, 2015.[9]


Dead Silence Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Charlie Clouser, Aiden
ReleasedMarch 16, 2007
GenreScore, horror punk, gothic rock
LabelLakeshore Records
ProducerCharlie Clouser, Aiden
Charlie Clouser, Aiden chronology
Dead Silence Soundtrack
Saw IV
Singles from Rain in Hell, Dead Silence
  1. "We Sleep Forever"
    Released: March 2007

Lakeshore Records released the soundtrack of Dead Silence on March 20, 2007. The CD contains 31 tracks, the first track being the song "We Sleep Forever" performed by American rock band Aiden (despite not actually being featured within the film itself). The rest of the CD is taken up by Charlie Clouser's film's score. Clouser has worked on many film scores such as the Saw series and Resident Evil: Extinction.

Track listing
  1. "We Sleep Forever" – Aiden
  2. "Main Titles" [2:56]
  3. "Sheet" [1:08]
  4. "Blood" [1:41]
  5. "Apartment" [1:28]
  6. "Raven's Fair" [0:59]
  7. "Dad's House" [0:47]
  8. "Ella" [1:29]
  9. "My Son" [1:03]
  10. "What Poem?" [1:31]
  11. "Caskets" [1:57]
  12. "Motel Hearse" [1:22]
  13. "It Can't Be" [1:40]
  14. "Funeral" [0:49]
  15. "Billy" [2:42]
  16. "Perplexed" [1:25]
  17. "Steal Billy" [0:50]
  18. "Lips Moving" [1:57]
  19. "Coffin" [2:16]
  20. "Photos" [1:36]
  21. "Map Drive" [0:49]
  22. "Guignol" [1:57]
  23. "He Talked" [3:06]
  24. "It's Soup" [2:09]
  25. "Full Tank" [1:49]
  26. "Doll Wall" [1:37]
  27. "All the Dolls" [1:07]
  28. "One Left" [0:27]
  29. "Mary Shaw" [0:31]
  30. "Dummy" [1:05]
  31. "Family Album" [0:37]

Alternate footageEdit

Many alternate scenes were released on the unrated DVD and HD DVD and are listed below:

  • Detective Lipton has a conversation with his colleague before interrogating Jamie on Lisa's death.
  • Mary Shaw's performance at the theatre is extended.
  • Jamie walking through Mary Shaw's property is slightly extended.
  • The unrated version depicts Detective Lipton rowing the boat towards the dilapidated theatre to chase Jamie.
  • Mary Shaw is depicted several times throughout the unrated version with a long, slimy tongue, made of the numerous tongues from her victims. In the scenes, she uses her tongue to frighten her victims, making it slither from her mouth (and licks Jamie's cheek in one scene). Along with the tongues of her victims, Mary acquires their voices as well.
  • Jamie attempting to swim out of the theatre is slightly extended.
  • In an alternate ending, Ella simply knocks Jamie out after he discovers his father was a puppet all along. Then, she explains that the original Ella was a human being with Edward as an abusive husband. Edward knocked her down the stairs and killed their unborn child. Ella dug up the grave where the puppet Billy was buried and became possessed by Mary Shaw. Afterwards, Ella makes a family photograph, and then, dressed as Mary Shaw, tells a bedtime story to a child by candlelight, later revealed to be Jamie with his tongue ripped out (or would have been had they added the visual effect planned). This story is the poem. Ella also reveals that only silence can save you from Mary Shaw. Then she blows out the candle, ending the movie.
  • The Billy puppet, from the Saw franchise, makes a brief cameo; it can be seen sitting on the floor as Jamie starts to walk towards the clown doll.

Post-release commentaryEdit

In his personal blog, screenwriter Whannell reveals the origins of the film within the context of the "Hollywood" film industry. In a candid post entitled "Dud Silence: The Hellish Experience of Making a Bad Horror Film", Whannell explains that the film was conceived following the advice of his agent at the time and that a "script doctor" was eventually employed by the production studio. Whannell concludes the post with a description of the key lessons that were learned following the Dead Silence experience:

After everything is said and done, I'm almost glad Dead Silence happened, because it gave me an extreme, coal-face lesson in what not to do. It was like learning to swim by leaping off Niagara Falls. I only write scripts on spec now, which means that I write them in my own time without getting paid and then take them out into the world to see if anyone's interested. Never again will I enter the arranged marriage of selling a pitch. I have also become very gun-shy about working with studios. In the world of independent film, what you write ends up on screen. Plus, they don't have the money to bring in script doctors! Works fine for me. Who knows, maybe one day I will work with a studio again...[10]


  1. ^ a b Dead Silence at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Chris Eggertsen (December 23, 2009). "The Top 10 Killer Toy Movies for the Holidays!". Bloody Disgusting. BLOODY DISGUSTING LLC. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
  3. ^ IMDb (1990–2012). "Release dates for Dead Silence (2007)". IMDb., Inc. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
  4. ^ Box Office Mojo. "Dead Silence". Box Office Mojo., Inc. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
  5. ^ "Dead Silence (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
  6. ^ "Dead Silence (2007)". Metacritic. CNET Networks. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  7. ^ The Numbers (1997–2012). "Dead Silence – DVD Sales". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
  8. ^ "Dead Silence Blu-ray UK". Retrieved May 27, 2015.
  9. ^ "Dead Silence Unrated Blu-ray". Retrieved May 27, 2015.
  10. ^ Leigh Whannell (August 31, 2011). "Dud Silence: The Hellish Experience Of Making A Bad Horror Film". Word In The Stone. Leigh Whannell. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012. Retrieved August 1, 2012.

External linksEdit