Review: SILENT HILL (2006) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Review: SILENT HILL (2006)

RATING: 2.5/5

This hugely-anticipated movie adaptation from the hugely-popular Silent Hill video game seems like a blessing at the first place: it has RESERVOIR DOGS and PULP FICTION scribe Roger Avary as the writer and visionary French director Christophe Gans, who is no stranger to such genre realm, having directed movies like CRYING FREEMAN (1995) and BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF (2002). The good news is, they have succeeded to translate this popular game into the big-screen medium with admirable result. I must say that SILENT HILL is one of those rarities where the movie actually looks like the game it was based, and that's really a compliment. Here, the movie captures the suffocating fog of creepiness and genuinely disturbing sense of dreadful atmosphere that characterized the essence of the game. The bad news is, the movie clocks at a rather unnecessary 127-minute long. And for all the visual achievements the filmmakers have meticulously executed here, they have apparently forgotten how to create tension and certain interest to turn this one into a little important thing called "entertainment".

The story follows Rose Da Silva (Radha Mitchell), who has been struggling to cure her daughter, Sharon (Jodelle Ferland), from terrifying nightmares and somnambulism, guided only by the words, "Silent Hill", which the child constantly wails in her sleep. Not long after, Rose soon discovers that there's a real Silent Hill place after all -- a ghost town located in West Virginia -- where she and her husband, Chris (Sean Bean), adopted Sharon. Curious of what makes the place called Silent Hill such a tormenting nightmare over Sharon's mind, she decided to bring her daughter face-to-face with her demons.

After a run-in with a persistent uniformed police officer Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden) who smells trouble, in which Rose manages to escape, she almost had a collision course with a sudden appearance of a small girl on the dark, fog-shrouded road and manages to steer away to avoid knocking her down. Knocked unconscious, Rose is later awakens in her car to find out that Sharon has disappeared. Not only that, her car's engine is dead and her cell phone delivers nothing but static. Panicked and worried at the same time, she climbs out of her car to locate her missing daughter and starts wandering around the deserted streets of Silent Hill, where the place is clouded with a constant snow of ashes. As she subsequently moves on, she finds the town's atmosphere abruptly alternates between sunshine and darkness falls in unexpected circumstances. Once the darkness arrives, the place turns into a grotesque horror where bloodthirsty evil begins to unveil itself.

Soon Rose stumbles again with Officer Cybil Bennett and help each other to locate Sharon, while gradually uncovers the town's dark secrets. Turns out to be that it has something to do with a cult of witch hunters who unleashed an evil 30 years earlier during a vicious "purification" ritual that caused a tragedy of massacre.

Visually speaking, SILENT HILL is top-notch with director Christophe Gans memorably created a series of nightmarish imagery that are both eerie, creepy and terrifying at the same time. From the first appearance of one of the ghouls to the climactic moment where Rose must makes her way carefully past a group of monstrous, scalpel-wielding nurses without touching them and right down to a HELLRAISER-like gory ending, the movie absolutely scores at this level. Not to forget also is the atmospheric and bleak cinematography by Dan Lausten, while production designer Carol Spier has certainly earns a distinction for creating a genuinely eerie ghost town of Silent Hill. Last but not least is the memorably haunting score blending original orchestrations by Jeff Sanna with music from the video games by Akira Yamaoka.

However, what has been crucially missing in this movie are soul, purpose and sense of entertainment. For one thing, we never learn anything about Rose's life at all, which resulted a difficult task for Radha Mitchell to inject her underwritten character with necessary sympathy and depth. But thankfully, Mitchell's intense performance turns out to be quite a blessing. Too bad the rest of the actors are largely forgettable, with Sean Bean seemingly looking out of place while Laurie Holden is nothing more than a fetish object of tough-as-nail cop appearance who dressed up in a tight-fitting police uniform getup and armed with never-say-die attitude. Another weak factor is its stilted and sometimes awful dialogues that it's hard to believe such a talented screenwriter like Roger Avary can come up as lazy as this. Meanwhile, the plot is also long-winded and often crippled by bad editing and slack pacing.

While SILENT HILL isn't as good as one might been expected at the first place -- considering all those massive publicity, the movie remains a fairly chilling experience to watch for.

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