Blood from the Dummy’s Tomb

DEAD SILENCE (2007) is the film that helped steer director James Wan away from the softcore torture porn of SAW and into the supernatural realms he’s mainly been exploring since. But at this early stage, he hasn’t mastered the genre. His later ghost stories have both effective suspense and shock sequences, even if they’re light on brains. They take their time, the better to scare you. DS goes all out, and after the first, moderately effective sequence where most of the sound cuts out, so we have a very visible but eerily inaudible thunderstorm and the victim-in-waiting’s breath is the loudest sound, it degenerates into fast-cut noisiness, not helped by a seriously overcooked score that seems to be trying to play THE EXORCIST’s Tubular Bells, THE OMEN, Danny Elfman and a half-dozen other undigested musical clichés all at the same time.

But we do get the eerie Judith Roberts from ERASERHEAD (“beautiful woman next door”), two (two!) icky human puppets, and an effective set-piece in a sort of ventriloquism museum with assorted dummies behind glass, and a couple other OK bits. But as with SAW, Leigh Whannell’s script offers almost no believable human interaction, and you strongly sense that you’re in the hands of filmmakers with extremely limited life experience. It’s rare to see a professional movie with a certain slickness but a vision of characterisation so close to that of a fifties drive-in movie.

And the WORST attempt at a scary rhyme I ever heard. “Beware the stare of Mary Shaw. She had no children only dolls. And if you see her in your dreams; be sure to never ever scream.” Doesn’t scan! Anyone reciting that junk deserves to be possessed by the spirit of an undead puppeteer.

Lots of Mario Bava references, I’ll give them that. More BLACK SABBATH than KILL, BABY, KILL! And we appreciated the retro Universal logo at the start.

7 Responses to “Blood from the Dummy’s Tomb”

  1. That rhyme is bad, but it does scan.

    She HAD no CHILdren ONly DOLLS
    And IF you SEE her IN your DREAMS
    Be SURE to NEVer EVer SCREAM

    The four beat line, what Nicholson Baker calls “the soul of English poetry.”

  2. Okay, you’re right. It doesn’t rhyme, though, except a coule of randomly-placed internals (beware/stare, never/ever). The chaos created by those rhymes makes it FEEL like it doesn’t scan.

    But yes, we can simply agree that it’s poor. And seems to be demonizing the old lady for not having had kids.

  3. Beware the flunky Mary Shaw
    She stares at junky crap like SAW

  4. If in a dream her face you sees
    It means you’ve eated toasted cheese.

  5. I like the Bava-isms, and the theatre in the middle of the lake. Why is it in the middle of a lake? Just because.

  6. Keep the plebs out.

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