Movie: Dead Silence (2007)
Writer: Leigh Whannell

With last year's mega, independently made horror hit Insidious, director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell were able to absolve themselves of the emotional scars and creative disappointments that sprung from 2007's Dead Silence, their first, and permanently traumatic, big-studio job. The finished product wasn't exactly what they'd hoped for in the script and pre-production stages, but, in our eyes, the film's potential shines through.

In the tradition of old Hammer movies and Mario Bava ghost stories, Dead Silence relies on creepy atmosphere and striking images to carry out its tale of ventriloquist Mary Shaw's vengeful spirit and the souls it both devours and takes over. The protagonist is Jamie Ashen (True Blood's Ryan Kwanten), a widower who returns to his hometown of Raven's Fair to figure out how Mary Shaw and her 101 freaky-looking puppets relate to his wife's gruesome murder.

At first, the film plays out in an expected fashion: Jamie defeats Shaw's ghost and is ready to head back to a life of ghoul-free normalcy. One last visit to his father's mansion, however, helps Jamie realize that his wheelchair-stricken dad, Edward (Bob Gunton), has been wearing the same suit the entire time that he's been back home, and that his new, young wife, Ella (Amber Valletta), has always stood directly behind him.

And why? Ella is actually Mary Shaw, and daddy's been a lifeless human puppet.