Dec 9, 2021
Duane D'Souza, Michael Jerome, Roby George Roy
Opaqueness in filmmaking is an important tool for telling an effective story – and some of the best films of all time refuse to bare their inner meanings and themes just for clarities sake. However, it is vital that the film remains legible enough for viewers to actually WANT to ponder wider truths. Dead Silence fails to keep this in mind, and ends up confusing and difficult to understand.
A young man (Duane D’Souza) begins to have dreams about a mysterious graveyard, and an imposing figure raking leaves within it. The next day, a local newspaper covers a similar story, and hints that the burial ground could be linked to multiple disappearances. He sets out to investigate, and uncovers unnerving truths about his own connection to the area.
Dead Silence is a short centred around a disturbing mystery. However, its plot fails to adequately explore the questions it raises, or energise audience intrigue around these to keep viewers on the edge of their seats as its protagonist sets out to uncover the truth. It is not scary enough to be a horror, and not coherent enough to be a thriller – and ends up floundering between the two.
The film fails to adequately explain key character elements, such as dynamics, backgrounds and relationships left entirely absent – and therefore leaving important plot developments meaningless and empty to viewers. A level of exposition would have been welcome, even at the cost of awkward dialogue, just to ensure the audience had enough information to come on board with the story.
Director (and star) Duane D’Souza seeps the film in sepia, with a flickering camera effect imposed throughout. This is a particularly unwanted distraction during the opening credits, but thankfully eases off during the story. The effect conjures thoughts of traditional horror techniques, and does add a level of unease and fear to the film (though little would have been lost in toning it down somewhat). As a lower-budget production however, some imperfections may have been ironed out with the addition.
Beyond the above there is little about the film that truly stands out. Performances are ‘meh’, and there is little in the way of innovative camera work or visual storytelling to write home about. Editing is slightly shoddy, with some awkward and amateurish cuts at moments which unfortunately stand out. It should be kept in mind that this is a small-scale production when pointing out these flaws, but when they are going to apparent, it is vital that the basics are in place. Unfortunately, it cannot be said to be the case.
It is unlikely that Dead Silence will make much of an impression with audiences. The film does not take enough care when setting up or exploring its plot, and fails to develop characters anywhere near the level required. As a smaller production, its flaws can be forgiven to an extent – however many other similar scale films have accomplished much more with less.