Friday, March 16, 2007

Happy Dead Silence Release Day!

Whew, did I need that month off!? Um, actually, no, I guess I didn't... But that's in the past, right? Great! Because today we have to celebrate something of an important day: the release of Dead Silence.

Sure, there's a couple of horror films that have dropped recently, and yeah, Zodiac probably packs more cinematic bang for your buck, but Dead Silence represents one of the few non-remake, non-sequel horror films that we're going to see all year. In my mind, that's something worth celebrating even if the studio isn't screening the film for critics (yikes!).

No matter how the masses react to the film, Dead Silence looks to be something of a creep fest. It shouldn't surprise anyone that the film comes from the same team that gave us the Saw series as they've obviously returned to the same well they've mined in the past with their use of terrifying looking dolls. I would even posit that this film can be seen as the generic offspring of doll-centered horror of old, which includes films like Puppet Master and the Child's Play series.

While the elements of the genre may be traced all the way back to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the prototype probably comes from the British horror anthology Dead of Night. In the film's most memorable segment, a ventriloquist is tormented by his doll, who may or may not have come to life. You can pretty much fill in the holes from there, but it's important to note that as far as I can remember, the doll in Dead of Night is never actually seen moving, meaning that all the action and behavior is implied. In many ways, this is much more unsettling than more recent violent dolls like Chucky, and it represents a lot of what makes horror, and particularly older horror films so powerful. It's probably hard to come by, but if you can get your hands on Dead of Night, savor it. They don't really make them like that anymore.