A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this horror movie shows grotesque image of corpses with mouths open and tongues torn out. The violence is shown in quick, nightmarish flashes (it's a ghostly curse doing it, after all, not human handiwork), and is very intense. A young boy is prominent among victims. Other imagery plays on people's worst fears of creepy ventriloquist dummies, dolls, mannequins, marionettes, and clowns -- this could definitely give smaller kids and other sensitive viewers nightmares.
What's the story?
A young wife is murdered, with her tongue torn out. Police detective Lipton (Donnie Wahlberg) immediately suspects the husband, Jamie (Ryan Kwanten), of the crime, mocking the young man's story that back in the town of Raven's Fair, where the couple grew up, there was a legend of a twisted lady ventriloquist named Mary Shaw. Her ghost supposedly pulls your tongue out if you scream when you see her in a nightmare. And Jamie and his wife had just received a mysterious package from Raven's Fair containing an antique dummy. To prove his innocence and bury his late spouse, Jamie goes back to Raven's Fair. Jamie tries to break the curse by burying the dummy in the cemetery with Mary Shaw, but it's not that simple.
Is it any good?
The filmmakers behind the grisly hit Saw and its sequels also made DEAD SILENCE; even with intense scenes of hideous corpses, the violence isn't as nasty as Saw's sadistic torture. Expect gruesome makeup effects and digital hauntings in an otherwise old-school chiller, complete with smoke-machine fog and cobwebs that look like they came straight from a magic shop. Even the Universal Pictures logo at the beginning of this is the black-and-white antique one, not the modern version.
If your teens are already watching and loving horror movies, Dead Silence is probably OK for them. The big question is whether horror-hardened youth will forgive a fairly predictable "trick" ending. Not to mention a ghost who's an obvious takeoff on the more interesting dream-haunting demon Freddy Krueger. Some of the scary stuff is just fleeting glimpses of Mary's ghost, reflected in a mirror or in deep shadow. Dead Silence actually gets less frightening when the filmmakers apply the fancy CGI special-effects or reveal Mary Shaw in full. It's far more ominous just to show the dummy's staring eyes or grinning face suddenly turned in a different position than the last shot.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's retro horror style with the use of dry-ice fog, nearly black-and-white cinematography, the exaggerated cop character -- even the absence of swearing and sex in the film. Ask your kids why they think the filmmakers decided to hearken back to this more innocent era? How does the movie compare to old Universal Pictures horror movies with Frankenstein's monster, the Wolf Man, Dracula, and others? Why are people creeped out (or not) by dummies and dolls?
For kids who love scares
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.