Dead Silence was a misunderstood horror movie back when it was released in theaters, but all the years later, this horror masterpiece sticks its landing and is quite brutal and fun all at the same time. And it involves a puppet! The new 4K image with HDR looks amazing and the DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix sounds great. The new and old extras are all worth watching. Highly Recommended!
It's not entirely clear why the horror film Dead Silence ended up being a dud upon release (both critically and financially), but all the years after its initial opening, the movie holds up very well and is quite terrifying. James Wan and Leigh Whannell made the perfect team with the release of Saw. Their second effort became Dead Silence after the studio watched their first feature film take the world by storm. But due to a lot of executive interference, Dead Silence was not the film Whannell and Wan really wanted to create, although now looking back at it, that dynamic duo really churned out something fantastic that told a wonderful story that still has a high creep factor.
After Dead Silence was released in theaters, Wan and Whannell probably weren't sought after, but then they created more Saw films, the Insidious franchise, The Conjuring franchise, and even entered the chat with DC in Aquaman and even Vin Diesel with Fast and Furious 7. Whannell and Wan have permanently cemented their names into cinema with their contribution to horror and action movies. With Dead Silence though, they were ahead of the game and the world simply wasn't ready for their genius quite yet - even with the whole ventriloquist angle.
Dead Silence earns its horror stripes by utilizing a variety of genre tropes. One could be the creepy puppet lore. Another could be the supernatural ghost entities that haunt living beings, and another could use the sounds of screams or in this case - silence as an element of horror. All three of these aspects come and work together perfectly in Dead Silence. The film begins with a young couple who is about to have a child and the wife is brutally murdered when her husband is out getting food. This same day, a mysterious package shows up on their doorstep that includes a letter and a ventriloquist dummy that brings the husband back to his hometown to visit his estranged family and research the owner of the dummy and letter.
What transpires is a series of horrendous events that slowly piece this puzzle together of years of murder and mayhem through this doll and its owner, complete with an M. Night Shyamalan-style twist - that while looking back on this film - is pure brilliance. Ryan Kwanten was still in the hot footsteps of his HBO show True Blood and Bob Gunton (the warden in The Shawshank Redemption) was in rare form for this horror film. It also introduced Donnie Wahlberg to Whannell and Wan who became one of the stars of the Saw franchise. The atmosphere and most of the script are still solid, but it's the journey that still succeeds in this film. And its payoff and the big reveal are one of the better endings to a horror film that has no apologies. With all of the doll horror movies out there, this sticks above the rest in its sheer brutality and storytelling.
The difference between the Unrated and Theatrical Cuts is about 90 seconds worth of footage that adds only a few sequences of gore, mostly to do with a creepy tongue and some doll work.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Dead Silence throws ira voice to 4K + Blu-ray via Scream Factory. The two discs are housed inside a hard, black plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. There is no reversible artwork here. The artwork is the movie poster essentially with the wooden dummy having his index finger on his lips for silence. There is no insert for a digital code.
Dead Silence (Theatrical Cut) comes with a new 2160p UHD 4K transfer with HDR enhancement. This video presentation is certainly a step up from its Blu-ray counterpart. The 4K video is only for the Theatrical version of the film while the Unrated Cut is on 1080p HD Blu-ray.
The color palette allows for the blue filters and blue-ish spectrum to annunciate the other colors in the film. Black levels and red levels look a bit richer, even with those blue filters turned on. The wooden dummy has brown and tan notes to it, but a lot of the film still has that blue tint to it, just like Saw had those specialized visuals within its picture. Other primary colors are bold within exterior bright shots, but other than those few instances, this is a cold-looking image, which is what the filmmakers were going for. The black levels are inky with no evidence of crush or murky shadows and the skin tones are natural in good lighting.
The detail is vivid and sharp, even with the darker lighting ambiance. Closeups reveal the textures in the doll, the stitching in the wardrobe, and even facial features like wrinkles, pores, individual hairs, and gory wounds. Props and sets give way to natural design work as well. Wider shots never go soft and the lower-lit scenes are intact and look great. There are no major problems with any aliasing, banding, or heavy noise. This is one video presentation that looks better than ever.
This release comes with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track that sounds great. Sound effects are lively, robust, and well-balanced. They transition through the surround speakers nicely. Those supernatural elements sound wonderful as well with a good amount of heft. The low end of the bass has a good rumble without crossing into rocky territory. The score provides ample suspense and horror without drowning out any other noise. The ambient noises come through often with characters talking, spooky sounds of the environment, and more. The dialogue is clean, clear, and easy to follow along with, free of any issues. This is a solid-sounding audio mix, but can't keep up with today's modern audio standards.
There are 42 minutes of brand-new extras that feature new interviews with Whannell, Wan, and the visual effects maestro. The rest of the 36 minutes are the previous bonus features that have been imported over. The theatrical cut is on the 4K Disc only, whereas the Theatrical and Unrated Cut lies on the Blu-ray version.
Dead Silence was once beaten and left for dead on the side of the road of horror movies. But upon re-examination, this movie really holds up in its story and scares, along with its amazing reveal in the end. It's unfortunate there was never a sequel to this because Dead Silence begs for more movies within its universe. The new 4K image with HDR looks amazing and is the best the film has looked thus far. The DTS-HD 5.1 audio track sounds fantastic as well. The new and vintage bonus features are exquisite. Highly Recommended!