Title: Silent Hill
Genre: Horror / Video game adaptation
Release Date: Theatrical release 4/21/06, available on DVD 8/22/06
Stars: Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden
Director: Christophe Gans
Screenwriter: Roger Avary
MPAA Rating: R
Reason for Rating: Strong violence, gore, disturbing images and some language
Runtime: 2 hours 5 minutes
Unbeknownst to her husband (Sean Bean ), Rose ( Radha Mitchell) takes her adopted daughter to the town of Silent Hill after repeated dangerous sleep walking incidents. Silent Hill is currently a ghost town, due to underground fires still burning from a freakish coal mining accident thirty years ago. She is stopped by a motorcycle cop (Laurie Holden) and flees towards the town, only to wreck her vehicle. When she awakes, her child is gone and she has to search the town for her. At this point it is obvious that everything is not as it seems and the town is covered underneath a blanket of ash and evil signaled by a fire alarm. And when it the horn blows, the darkness comes.
Well faithful readers, I must give you warning, that if you rent a DVD this year and the word Hill is in the title, you might want to rent something else. Here’s how it went; HURRY, HURRY, introduce the characters. WAIT, take a nap under a tree – WOOPS, hubby doesn’t know we’re gone. LOOK, a cop pulling me over for no reason, what should I do? I know, FLOOR IT. CRASH. Now we’re at 10 minutes. Make any sense, not to me either.
Wake up mommy, look, look your little girl is gone. So we follow mommy on a trek through a ghost town being covered with falling ash. Now a siren, everything gets dark and the obligatory asexual, regurgitating zombies yearning for the blood of the living attack and burn to a crisp in just the nick of time.
Does any of this sound hard to follow? Damn skippy it does, and don’t expect the dialog to bail you out. None of this makes sense at all, maybe in draft 2 of the script it did, but somewhere along the lines the set-up was edited out for all the weird stuff. And believe me faithful readers, this film has plenty of weird and macabre. Now, if a suburban house wife roaming around a spooky, evacuated town with zombies and cadavers wrapped in barbed wire isn’t weird enough, her nonchalantness will. But wait, there’s more. The female motorcycle cop is back and joins the search. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention her shirt is 4 sizes too small, standard police issue I’m sure.
Now there are some saving graces here. The bad guy is a giant sword wielding demon with a pyramid shaped, iron bound box as a head and the body of a human. One of the more disturbing things I’ve seen on film and that’s a compliment. The fire horn is as ominous it comes. The actual concept is complex and interesting, even if not well executed. The images are dark and frightening, so if you like horror movies, the images will please you. I do have one question, however, who plays a video game like this? And what the heck is the object of the game. A long way from the Pac Man of my day.
The main issue here is that the movie rambles around unsure which storyline it should develop. There are several and some stop dead in their tracks. Too many coincidences and not enough character development. I was pulling for the little girl, but only because she was a child, she was absent from most of the film. The mother (honestly I was hoping she would buy it) annoyed me from the get go. Every bad choice there was to make, she made it. Even the great writer of laws, Murphy, could only shake his head. Who the hell acts like this? The ending is unpredictable, but honestly I didn’t think it made any sense, of course it gains points for consistency, for neither did most of the film.
Hit or No Hit: Coach Mike gives this a single, battling off a strike out by images alone, but for a $50M budget, I would expect much more.