Dead Silence
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJames Wan
Screenplay byLeigh Whannell
Story by
  • James Wan
  • Leigh Whannell
Produced by
CinematographyJohn R. Leonetti
Edited byMichael N. Knue
Music byCharlie Clouser
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • March 16, 2007 (2007-03-16)
Running time
  • 89 minutes
  • 92 minutes (unrated cut)
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 million[1]
Box office$22.4 million[1]

Dead Silence is a 2007 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan and written by Leigh Whannell. The film stars Ryan Kwanten as Jamie Ashen, a young widower returning to his hometown to search for answers to his wife's death. It also stars Amber Valletta, Donnie Wahlberg, and Bob Gunton.

Dead Silence was theatrically released in the United States on March 16, 2007, by Universal Pictures. The film was dedicated to Gregg Hoffman, who died in 2005.


Jamie Ashen and his wife Lisa receive an anonymous gift of a ventriloquist doll called "Billy". When Jamie goes out, a figure kills Lisa. Jamie returns to find that her tongue has been cut off; he is arrested for presumably killing her. After Jamie is released by police detective Jim Lipton due to lack of evidence, he spots inside Billy's box a mysterious message about "Mary Shaw", a deceased ventriloquist from his hometown, Raven's Fair. Returning to Raven's Fair, now old and rundown, Jamie visits his estranged, wheelchair-bound father Edward, and his much-younger wife, Ella. He arranges for Lisa's funeral with the help of local mortician Henry Walker. Henry's senile wife, Marion, urges him to bury Billy. Jamie does so but is confronted by Lipton, who followed Jamie and finds his actions suspicious.

Henry explains that Mary Shaw was publicly humiliated when a young boy named Michael rudely claimed that he could see her lips moving during one of her performances. Some weeks later, Michael disappeared, and his family blamed it on Mary and lynched her. Mary's last wish was to have her body turned into a doll and buried with her collection of dolls, who she called her children. Henry, then a child, saw Shaw (after she was turned into a dummy) rise up, but was spared thanks to his silence, because Mary only kills those who scream when exposed to her true appearance. Jamie finds out that Michael, who actually was murdered by Mary Shaw, was his great-uncle. The Ashen family forced Mary to scream and silenced her by cutting her tongue out; she has since been seeking revenge against their bloodline by killing them the same way.

Mary Shaw kills Henry, and Lipton discovers that all of her dolls have been dug up. At Shaw's old theater, Jamie and Lipton discover 100 of the dolls in their display case, along with Michael's body, which had been turned into a marionette. Mary's ghost reveals that she killed Lisa because she was pregnant with his child, thereby killing any potential newborn of the Ashen family. Jamie and Lipton start a fire to destroy the dolls, but Lipton trips and screams, sealing his fate. Back at his father's residence, Jamie is confronted by Mary, but repels her by throwing Billy into the fireplace. He learns, much to his horror, that his father is already dead; the current "Edward" he has been interacting with all this time is a doll converted from his corpse; his voice was provided by Ella, the "perfect doll" that Mary Shaw created before her death. Jamie screams as Ella becomes possessed by Mary; he suffers the same fate as everyone else.

Jamie, now a puppet, recites a nursery rhyme about Shaw while a photo album with other human puppets is shown: Lisa, Henry, Lipton, Edward, Ella, and Jamie himself. Mary closes the book, finally completing her revenge and ending the Ashen bloodline.



Filming took place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[2] The setting for the film's story, the non-fictional suburb of "Raven's Fair," is situated at Badley Bridge and goes by the name "Raven's Fair Town Sign".[3]


Dead Silence was released in the United States on March 16, 2007.[4]

Box office

In the United States, as of April 16, 2007, the film's total domestic gross has been worth US$16.8 million (according to Box Office Mojo), and screenings of Dead Silence were ceased in most theatres 16 days following its release; the film's estimated production budget was US$20 million. As of April 1, 2009, US$5,572,971 has been generated globally. Worldwide, the film has grossed $22,382,047.[5]

Critical reception

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On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 21%, based on 82 reviews, with an average rating of 3.90/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "More tasteful than recent slasher flicks, but Dead Silence is undone by boring characters, bland dialogue, and an unnecessary and obvious twist ending."[6] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 34 out of 100, based on 15 reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[7]

Home video

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

Dead Silence was released on Blu-ray Disc in the U.K. 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. It was released on August 11, 2015.[10]


Dead Silence Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Charlie Clouser, Aiden
ReleasedMarch 16, 2007
GenreScore, horror punk, Gothic rock
LabelLakeshore Records
ProducerCharlie Clouser, Aiden
Charlie Clouser, Aiden chronology
Dead Silence Soundtrack
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 in the film itself). The rest of the CD is taken up by Charlie Clouser's film score. Clouser previously scored Wan's first commercially released film, Saw and its many sequels.

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]

Post-release commentary

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]

In retrospect, Director James Wan said: “Dead Silence, my second movie and first studio film, was really me responding to the reaction that Saw was getting, meaning that people were harping on the torture aspect of Saw. So I made a very conscious decision to move away from that style of film and into something that was more of a haunted house, ghost story, which is a genre I love. But, of course, Saw made such a strong impression that it carried into Dead Silence. A lot of people were expecting something similar to Saw, but it wasn’t. Ultimately, it didn’t do that well, financially, and at the time, people didn’t really like it. But now, strangely, so many fans reach out to tell me how much they love Dead Silence.[12]


  1. ^ a b Dead Silence at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ "Set Visit: Dead Silence". IGN. January 22, 2007. Archived from the original on July 24, 2023. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  3. ^ Dead Silence filming locations — MovieMaps, archived from the original on February 2, 2023, retrieved July 24, 2023
  4. ^ IMDb (1990–2012). "Release dates for Dead Silence (2007)". IMDb., Inc. Archived from the original on April 8, 2023. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
  5. ^ Box Office Mojo. "Dead Silence". Box Office Mojo., Inc. Archived from the original on February 12, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
  6. ^ "Dead Silence (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Archived from the original on September 24, 2020. Retrieved September 14, 2023.
  7. ^ "Dead Silence (2007)". Metacritic. CNET Networks. Archived from the original on November 27, 2020. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  8. ^ The Numbers (1997–2012). "Dead Silence – DVD Sales". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Archived from the original on May 1, 2012. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
  9. ^ "Dead Silence Blu-ray UK". Archived from the original on May 27, 2015. Retrieved May 27, 2015.
  10. ^ "Dead Silence Unrated Blu-ray". Archived from the original on May 28, 2015. Retrieved May 27, 2015.
  11. ^ Leigh Whannell (August 31, 2011). "Dud Silence: The Hellish Experience Of Making A Bad Horror Film". Word In The Stone. Leigh Whannell. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2021.
  12. ^ "James Wan on Finishing 'Aquaman' Sequel, AI Fears and Where 'Saw' Came from". The Hollywood Reporter. June 2, 2023.