The Ending Of Dead Silence Explained

Via a “Saw”-esque clown doll, Jamie and Lipton hear the voice of Mary Shaw, who explains why she chose to kill Jamie’s innocent wife. As it turns out, the young heckler Mary killed and turned into a doll prior to being executed was Jamie (Ashen’s) Great Uncle. Since the Ashen family’s lynching of Shaw involved prompting her to scream, then cutting out her tongue in order to silence her forever, her vengeance vow involved silencing all further members of the Ashen bloodline in the same manner. (Hence the film’s repeated children’s rhyme about Shaw: “if you see her in your dreams, be sure you never, ever scream.”) While Shaw doesn’t provide the entire backstory, she does explain to Jamie that she killed Lisa because she was carrying the last of the Ashens. 

Here, the film winks at yet another early 20th-century exercise in pediophobia-based horror: Tod Browning’s 1936 film, “The Devil Doll.” Like Hoffmann’s “The Sandman” before it, Browning’s film pointed to the doll’s maker as the true source of horror, this time working in a little good old-fashioned vengeance. In the film, Lionel Barrymore’s Paul Lavond, like Mary Shaw, transforms real humans into murderous dolls and uses them to exact revenge on those responsible for his wrongful conviction. Unlike Lavond, Shaw is responsible for her crimes, but it’s hard not to read into the characters’ twin motivations. Rather than rely solely on horror homage, however, Wan and Whannell take the narrative one step further, adding a second twist in much the same way Wan does in “Malignant.” 

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