Dead Silence’s ghoul, Mary Shaw, is an undead ventriloquist who slays her victims by eating their tongues when they scream. In spite of all the yawning elicited by the film, there’s little chance such a fate will befall anyone unlucky enough to endure James Wan’s unscary movie, which somehow operates under the assumption that a dumb nursery rhyme, a colorless visual palette punctuated by deep reds, and some creaky dolls will frighten anyone over the age of five. Wan’s personal follow-up to the original Saw (which, like this dud, he concocted with writer Leigh Whannell) is an exhaustively inept affair marked by pitiful staging, no-dimensional characters, and countless narrative illogicalities, including: Why does hero Jamie (Ryan Kwanten) keep carrying around creepy puppet Billy when he’s convinced the thing is evil? Why does detective Lipton (Donnie Wahlberg) let Jamie run free when he’s the only suspect in his wife’s murder? And why are we supposed to be scared of ventriloquist dummies whose main tactics are hiding motionless underneath sheets and slowly turning their giant eyes? Chucky needn’t be worried about losing his crown as cinema’s premiere toy serial killer, since at least his later big-screen outings had the good sense to treat their goofy subject matter with a big, fat ironic wink. Dead Silence, on the other hand, proceeds with a level of grim seriousness that’s at extreme odds with its campy premise, resulting in a raft of missed opportunities for knowing, tongue-in-cheek humor that’s spearheaded by [spoiler – haha! – alert] the story’s ultimate embodiment of evil: an Anna Nicole Smith-style gold-digger.