|“||In the 6th Century B.C. it was believed that the spirits of the dead would speak through the stomach region of the living.||„|
|― Title card|
Dead Silence (originally titled Shhhh..., then renamed to Silence before finalizing the name) is a 2007 horror film, directed by James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the creators of Saw. The film stars Ryan Kwanten as the main protagonist, Jamie Ashen, Donnie Wahlberg as Detective Jim Lipton and Judith Roberts as Mary Shaw.
It was released nationwide on March 16, 2007, and was released on DVD and HD DVD on June 26, 2007. Altogether, there are three versions of the movie: the edited, R rated movie, and an uncut version. The movie took 6 months and 17 days to film.
A young widower returns to his hometown to search for answers to his wife's murder, which may be linked to the ghost of a murdered ventriloquist.
After he receives a mysterious puppet in the mail, Jamie Ashen believes there is something strange about it. When he leaves his apartment to pick up dinner, his wife, Lisa, sets up the puppet to scare him. However, after everything around her is silenced, she is attacked. As Jamie returns to the apartment, he hears Lisa calling out to him, but soon discovers her dead with her tongue ripped out of her mouth. Though Detective Jim Lipton suspects Jamie of the murder, he is allowed to leave as there is no evidence against him. Jamie returns to his apartment and discovers the puppet, named Billy (a reference to the puppet used in the Saw series, who has a cameo later in the film), belonged to Mary Shaw, from his hometown of Ravens Fair.
Returning to the town for Lisa's funeral, he first confronts his estranged father about Mary Shaw. Although he doesn't get any answers, his father and new, young wife Ella, remind him of the children's poem regarding Shaw and her penchant of cutting out her victims' tongues. After Lisa's funeral, Jamie wanders into an old cemetery where he finds Shaw's grave and those of her puppets. He is warned by Marion, the senile wife of the mortician, Henry, of the danger of Shaw's puppets, and realizes he should rebury Billy. He does so, only to find the puppet in his room the next morning, accompanied by Detective Lipton, still not convinced of Jamie's innocence (if anything, his suspicion of Jamie murdering his wife strengthens, believing the puppet to be evidence). Jamie tells him about the poem, but Detective Lipton is skeptical. Stealing Billy from the detective, he brings the puppet to Henry, who finally tells him the tale of Mary Shaw.
Shaw was a famous ventriloquist who performed shows at the Guignol Theater (a reference to the Grand Guignol, the legendary shock-theater Paris playhouse) whose ambition was to make the perfect puppet. One night, a young boy named Michael Ashen heckled her, claiming that he could see Mary's lips moving. Mary quickly rebuffed this by presenting herself and Billy talking at the same time, and impressed the entire audience. Michael went missing shortly thereafter. While his body was never found, Shaw was blamed. The Ashen clan murdered her and mutilated her corpse by cutting out her tongue. Her last wish was to have her body turned into a ventriloquist puppet in death, and to be buried with her 101 puppets. Henry, a young boy at the time, saw her corpse in his father's mortuary. He survived because he covered his mouth to keep from screaming and Mary can only kill when her victim screams.
Jamie investigates the theater and finds Shaw's dressing room. He discovers an old book of hers with plans to make the perfect puppet. Unbeknownst to him, her ghost is stalking him throughout the theatre. Jamie confronts his father and learns that Michael was his great-uncle, that the Ashen family were certain Shaw murdered him, so his family and others killed her. Soon after her death, Ashen family members were found dead with their tongues ripped out and posed in macabre family pictures. This pattern continued with children and grandchildren, so Jamie was sent to boarding school to try to stop the curse. The detective informs Jamie at his hotel that all of Shaw's puppets had been exhumed and are missing. Then, Jamie receives a phone call from Henry. With the detective following close behind, Jamie returns to the theater and Shaw's living quarters. Discovering a cleverly hidden back room that Jamie didn't locate the first time, they find the body of Michael Ashen, strung like a marionette and 100 of Shaw's puppets placed in cases upon the wall. Suddenly, all sounds cease and the puppets begin to look to their left at a clown-like dummy rocking in a chair. It begins to speak to Jamie and reveals the gruesome truth of why Jamie's wife was targeted; she was pregnant with the last member of the Ashen line. They realize that Mary Shaw can materialize through one of her puppets and begin to destroy them. After setting the room on fire, they run from the theater. When the catwalk along which they are running collapses, Detective Lipton screams and is killed in mid-fall by Shaw. Jamie, however, continues to climb upward on the collapsed catwalk, only to be greeted by Mary Shaw when he reaches the top. As he falls, he nearly screams. Realizing this, he covers his mouth and falls through the theater floor into the waters below. Grabbing the fallen flashlight, he makes his escape.
Jamie realizes that Billy is the only remaining puppet, and that the only way to rid the town of Shaw is to destroy him. He goes to the mortician with whom he had left Billy, only to discover that the mortician is dead, his tongue ripped out. After his wife, Marion, tells Jamie that his father took the doll (which seems impossible since he is an invalid), he returns to his father's house to destroy Billy. When he arrives, Mary Shaw reappears, but is forced to retreat when Jamie throws Billy into the fireplace. As she is forced back into the shadows, Jamie finds his wheelchair-bound father sitting, staring blankly into space. As he approaches him, Jamie is horrified to find that his father is dead, his entire back hollowed out and replaced with a wooden shaft used in ventriloquist dummies. As Jamie realizes that his young stepmother was always at his father's side, she suddenly appears next to him. He realizes that Ella is the perfect puppet that Shaw strove to make and had been using the elder Ashen's corpse as a puppet to lure Jamie. Ella heckles Jamie and lightning flashes in the sky briefly showing the ghostly Mary Shaw behind her disguise. Jamie screams, therefore allowing Mary to succeed in killing the last Ashen. The last scene returns to the page of Mary's photo album, showing her new victims as dolls before she closes along with Jamie's narration of the Mary Shaw poem, which went as follows: "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 rip your tongue out at the seams."
- Ryan Kwanten as Jamie Ashen
- Amber Valletta as Ella Ashen
- Donnie Wahlberg as Detective Jim Lipton
- Bob Gunton as Edward Ashen
- Judith Roberts as Mary Shaw
- Michael Fairman as Henry Walker
- Laura Regan as Lisa Ashen
- Joan Heney as Marion Walker
- Actor Ryan Kwanten is also one of the main stars on the HBO vampire television series Trueblood where he plays a character named Jason Stackhouse.
- Donnie Wahlberg has also played the role of Detective Eric Matthews in Saw II, Saw III and Saw IV. Flashback scenes involving the character were also used in Saw V.