Dead Silence

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This article is about a horror film. For the Billy Talent album, see Dead Silence (album). For the 1997 film of the same name starring James Garner, see Dead Silence (1997 film).
Dead Silence
Dead silence.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James Wan
Produced by Mark Burg
Oren Koules
Gregg Hoffman
Screenplay by Leigh Whannell
Story by James Wan
Leigh Whannell
Starring Ryan Kwanten
Amber Valletta
Donnie Wahlberg
Michael Fairman
Joan Heney
Bob Gunton
Judith Roberts
Laura Regan
Music by Charlie Clouser
Cinematography John R. Leonetti
Edited by Michael Knue
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • March 16, 2007 (2007-03-16)
Running time
89 minutes
92 minutes (Unrated cut)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million[1]
Box office $22,217,407[2]

Dead Silence (originally titled Shhhh... and Silence, with alternate title suggestions such as The Doll and Mary Shaw)[3] is a 2007 supernatural psychological 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.[4]


Getting ready for dinner one night, Jamie Ashen and his wife Lisa receive a mysterious ventriloquist doll named "Billy", in an unmarked package. Wondering who sent the doll, Lisa recalls a poem about a woman named Mary Shaw. Jamie disregards this and leaves to get dinner. After Lisa plays around with Billy, all the sounds disappear and something attacks Lisa. When Jamie arrives with their dinner, he hears Lisa call him into the bedroom, but becomes confused when he notices blood all over the floor. Jamie finds Lisa in their bed, dead with her tongue ripped out, and Billy lying near her body. Detective Jim Lipton brings Jamie in for questioning of the murder of his wife, but releases him due to lack of evidence. While ripping the lining of the box Billy came in, Jamie discovers that Billy belonged to Mary Shaw, a ventriloquist from his hometown of Ravens Fair.

Returning to Ravens Fair to make arrangements for his wife's funeral, Jamie asks his wealthy father, Edward, what he knows about Mary Shaw. Edward is wheelchair-bound with a new, much younger wife, Ella, who takes care of him. Edward writes it off as small town superstition-"Beware the stare of Mary Shaw. She had no children, only dolls. If you see her in your dreams, make sure you never ever scream". Before leaving, Jamie warns Ella that Edward is a monster, but she assures him that he has changed and is no longer a threat to anyone. Meanwhile, the town's elderly mortician, Henry, is shocked when he opens Lisa's body bag, because he recognizes a pattern in the way she was murdered. After Lisa's funeral, Jamie wanders around the cemetery and finds Marion, Hank's senile wife, who warns him of the danger of Shaw's puppets and he realizes he should rebury Billy. He does so, but Detective Jim Lipton had followed him to Ravens Fair and had seen him bury it. Lipton digs it back up, unconvinced of Jamie's innocence in Lisa's death and believing that he's trying to conceal evidence. Jamie tells him about the poem, but Lipton is skeptical. The next morning, Jamie brings Billy to the mortician, Henry, who finally tells him about Mary Shaw.

Shaw was a famous ventriloquist whose ambition was to make the perfect puppet. At one performance, a young boy named Michael heckled her, saying that he could see her lips moving when performing with Billy, upsetting Mary, and the boy went missing shortly after. Shaw was blamed for the disappearance, and the boy's family killed her. Her final wish was to have her body turned into a ventriloquist's puppet and to be buried with her 101 puppets. A young Henry wandered into his fathers mortuary and accidentally knocked over her coffin. Shaw's body briefly came to life and approached Henry, but he survived by covering his mouth to keep from screaming, as Shaw can only kill her victims when they scream.

Jamie goes to the abandoned theater, where Mary Shaw had lived, and finds Shaw's dressing room and discovers an old book with plans to make the perfect puppet. Jamie confronts Edward and learns that the missing boy Michael was his great-uncle, and that Jamie's own family murdered Shaw by forcing her to scream and then cutting out her tongue. The men involved were killed off one by one, and all were found with their tongues ripped out. Their children, and children's children all suffered the same fate. Edward also deliberately drove Jamie away to spare him, but knows that Shaw will now come back for them. Meanwhile, at Henry's house (Billy was left there after Jamie asked him about Mary), Henry believes he hears his wife hiding under their house in a crawl space; he enters determined to get her to com out. Shaw's ghost then shows herself, causing Henry to scream and allowing her to kill him. Still unconvinced that Jamie is innocent, Lipton goes back to Mary Shaw's gravesite to dig up the remaining puppets. He tells Jamie that Shaw's puppets are all missing from their graves. Jamie receives a phone call from "Henry", telling him to go to the theater because he has proof that shows Jamie is innocent in his wife's murder.

Jamie and Lipton go to the theater, following Henry's voice to Shaw's living quarters. In a hidden back room, they find the body of Michael Ashen, who was kidnapped and murdered by Mary Shaw, strung up like a marionette, and a wall of 100 of Shaw's puppets, back in their cases after having been dug up from their graves. Slowly, their heads turn to their left one by one, to face a clown doll, possessed by Shaw. Through the doll, Shaw tells Jamie that she killed Lisa because she was pregnant with the last of Jamie's family line. Lipton shoots the doll, but Shaw possesses the body of another. Realizing they must destroy all the dolls, they set the room on fire and try to flee the theater. Shaw's ghost chases them, and kills Lipton after he screams when he slips from the catwalk as it collapses. Jamie escapes as the theater burns down, destroying the dolls.

Billy is the only remaining puppet, and the only way to get rid of Shaw is to destroy him. He reaches Henry's house to find Marion crying over his mutilated body, and tells Jamie that Edward took the doll. Jamie returns to his father's house to destroy Billy. He finds the doll in a dusty, neglected room of his father's mansion. Shaw reappears, but is forced to retreat when Jamie throws Billy into the fireplace. Jamie finds Edward in his wheelchair, but is horrified to discover that his father is dead, his entire back hollowed out and replaced with a wooden shaft used in ventriloquist dummies. Jamie realizes Edward has been wearing the same suit, and that Ella has been at his side the entire time with her hand behind his back. When Ella, Mary Shaw's "perfect doll", appears, Jamie screams, and Shaw kills him. The film ends with Jamie reciting the poem and the audience is shown pictures of the human puppets including Lisa, Henry, Edward, Lipton, Ella and Jamie, then Mary closes the book.

Alternate ending[edit]

In an alternate ending, Ella had been abused by Edward until she suffered a miscarriage; seeking revenge, she dug up one of Mary Shaw's puppets and was possessed by her spirit, becoming the perfect puppet that Shaw strove to make. After killing Edward, she hollowed out his corpse and used it as a puppet to lure Jamie back to Ravens Fair. Ella sits a tied-up Jamie alongside Edward and Lisa in a macabre family portrait. Jamie screams as Mary Shaw attacks him, presumably taking his tongue. The film ends with Ella reciting the poem to Jamie's corpse, tucked into bed like a child. Before blowing out the candle, Ella tells Jamie that if he sees Mary Shaw, the only thing that will protect him is silence.



Dead Silence was released in the United States on March 16, 2007,[5] with an "R" rating.

Box office[edit]

In the United States, as of April 16, 2007, the film's total gross has been worth US$16.5 million (according to Box Office Mojo), and screenings of Dead Silence were ceased in most theaters 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.[6] Tentative plans for a sequel were abandoned.[citation needed]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received generally negative reviews; Rotten Tomatoes rated the film with a 21% "Rotten" based on 76 reviews with a consensus of "More tasteful than recent slasher flicks, but Dead Silence is undone by boring characters, bland dialogue, and an unnecessary and obvious twist ending."[7]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD on June 26, 2007 with an "unrated" version was released, and the same occurred for the HD DVD product. The film has since grossed US$17,304,718 in overall DVD sales.[8]

Dead Silence was released on Blu-ray Disc in the United Kingdom on October 25, 2010.[9] In May 2015, it was announced that Universal Studios would be releasing the film to Blu-ray Disc in the U.S., set for release on August 11, 2015.[10]


Dead Silence Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Charlie Clouser, Aiden
Released March 16, 2007
Genre Score, horror punk, gothic rock
Length 51:19
Label Lakeshore Records
Producer Charlie Clouser, Aiden
Charlie Clouser, Aiden chronology
Dead Silence
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 footage[edit]

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 theater is extended.
  • Jamie walking through Mary Shaw's property is slightly extended.
  • The unrated version depicts Detective Lipton rowing the boat towards the dilapidated theater to chase Jamie.
  • Mary Shaw is depicted several times throughout the unrated version with a long, slimy tongue, made of 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 voice as well.
  • Jamie attempting to swim out of the theater 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 with his whip, and killed their unborn child. Ella dug up the grave where the puppet Billy was buried, and became possessed by Mary Shaw. Afterward, 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 commentary[edit]

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...[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dead Silence at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Dead Silence at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ Bloody Disgusting Staff (10 August 2006). "Universal Puts the Hush on ‘Dead Silence’". Bloody Disgusting. BLOODY DISGUSTING LLC. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Chris Eggertsen (23 December 2009). "The Top 10 Killer Toy Movies for the Holidays!". Bloody Disgusting. BLOODY DISGUSTING LLC. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  5. ^ IMDb (1990–2012). "Release dates for Dead Silence (2007)". IMDb., Inc. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  6. ^ Box Office Mojo. "Dead Silence". Box Office Mojo., Inc. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  7. ^ "Dead Silence (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved August 19, 2013. 
  8. ^ The Numbers (1997–2012). "Dead Silence – DVD Sales". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "Dead Silence Blu-ray UK". Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "Dead Silence Unrated Blu-ray". Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  11. ^ Leigh Whannell (31 August 2011). "Dud Silence: The Hellish Experience Of Making A Bad Horror Film". Word In The Stone. Leigh Whannell. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 

External links[edit]