We’re another week closer to Halloween, which means there’s one week less to wait for the release of the first installment of The Projectionist’s Shakespearean black metal opera Visits From the NightHag. Throughout the month of October, Lörd Matzigkeitus, the demonic voice and deranged mastermind of The Projectionist, is discussing his favorite horror films here at the Vault in his guest column Projections of Death and Horror. After covering the 1978 Anthony Hopkins film Magic and the 1922 classic Nosferatu in his first two installments, what will be number three?
In case you missed it the first time around, check out “Act 4: What Can be Mollified in a Banshee’s Thrashing?” while you read the third installment of Lörd M’s column, and make sure to grab your preorder of Visits From the NightHag, Part 1 from Appalachian Noise Records here. I actually got my copy of the green splatter in the mail last week, and the pictures on ANR’s site really don’t do justice to how amazing it looks.
For the third installment of my favorite horror films leading up to Halloween, support of the new horror opera black metal album by my main band the Projectionist Visits from the NightHag I’m going to go over what will likely be the only modern film of the lot…
Maybe I’m a luddite, or just crotchety and old, but the current trend of computer generated, expositional horror combined with remakes of films that were perfect in the first place…does absolutely nothing for me. To me, good horror is in storytelling, setting, suspense and characterization. Effective horror movie deaths can only be achieved if you have an emotional investment in the characters; you must either want them to die because you despise them so much, or care that they live because they are so noble.
Classic horror does that in ways almost anything released post-1989 simply makes no effort to do.
Excessive rant aside; 2007’s Dead Silence is a newly conceived, cryptic film that breathes the same air as the classic Universal horrors. Rich, lavish, eerie abandoned theatre….unsettling ventriloquist dolls shown in minimalist fashion…. unbelievable original score (possibly my favorite score in cinema)…. sympathetic, well-written protagonist…. shocking finale. This movie is a clinic on how to create a perfect haunt.
The story begins with Ryan Kwanten’s Jamie Ashen (Jason Stackhouse from True Blood) having his wife viciously murdered and having her tongue ripped out shortly after the couple receives the dummy ‘Billy’ anonymously in the mail. Unraveling a murder mystery of sorts falling across the tale of one Mary Shaw (Judith Roberts) from the town’s lore by way of a rhyme to scare children “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”….
The head detective is played by Donnie Wahlberg in a role so utterly redeeming that I almost forgive him for the murderous rage he incited me me as a child when my sister would blast NKOTB in attempt to drown out my Mötley Crüe cassettes.
Every murder in this film is precluded by absolute silence as all room noise dies, which is a flawlessly executed tool of anxiety and suspense.
As James Wan directed this, (think Saw, The Conjuring…) he hid the Jigsaw doll in this movie, amuse yourself looking for it…. a macabre “Where’s Waldo?” if you will.
Criminally underrated, an isolated genius of a film by a director who went on to carve his own piece of horror lore with his amazing The Conjuring/Annabelle/The Nun series. Wan proves original ideas can truly start their own franchises and need not rely on remakes of masterworks to draw an audience.
Dead Silence is his crowning glory in my arrogant, pompous opinion. Best horror film of the modern age – so speaks Lörd Matzigkeitus.
“Winds of sickness, illness most vile,
Strike down my enemy, with disease revile” (Virulina)
Until next week NightHags and Warlocks, prepare for the coming of demons, be towering fear to drive back the abyss.