Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Silent Hill

Directed by Christophe Gans.
2006. Rated R, 125 minutes.
Radha Mitchell
Laurie Holden
Sean Bean
Deborah Kara Unger
Kim Coates
Tanya Allen
Alice Krige
Jodelle Ferland

Little Sharon (Ferland) often has nightmares and sleepwalks. One night, she’s just about to jump off a cliff when mommy Rose (Mitchell) grabs her in a nick of time. All the while, she keeps screaming “Silent Hill!” over and over. Rose does a little research and finds out that Silent Hill is a town not too far from them right there in West Virginia. Forget about all that therapy crap. This mom is a bit more proactive. She quickly deduces that the only way to solve her daughter’s problems is by taking a drive to this place of which the little girl unconsciously howls at the moon. You see that? I wrote howl to suggest this is a werewolf movie when it’s not. My sleight of hand is spectacularly lame. I’m like a magician that says “Look over there” and then tries to peek at the card you picked. Let’s move on. With Sharon in tow, Rose gets in her SUV and heads for the apparently deserted town. On the way, she avoids a ticket by speeding away from a motorcycle cop, nearly runs over an ominous pedestrian, crashes and gets knocked out. When she comes to, she discovers she’s reached her destination, which is definitely the strangest place she’s ever been. More importantly, Sharon is missing. Rose and eventually Officer Bennett (Holden), the cop that chased her donw, running all over Silent Hill trying not to be killed by the town’s very weird creatures while looking for Sharon ensues. Based on a true…oh, wait…it’s based on a video game.

Like any movie based on a video game probably should be, Silent Hill relies heavily on its visuals. Once in this God forsaken place, we get scene after scene of amazing imagery. All sorts of creatures of the damned parade themselves across the screen. Those are just the ones that are moving. There are also a number of gross looking corpses lying or hanging around. Not to be deterred, our heroine’s press on through all the ghosts and goblins in their path facing death at every turn. Periodically, the screen goes completely black. Things get really hairy whenever we’re able to see again. As interesting as it is to look at, SH never really frightens us. The tension simply isn’t there. We’re fascinated by what we see, but not afraid of other. What we have is a movie that’s not scary, but grotesque enough for us to be unable to avert our eyes. This is its sleight of hand. Like mine, it is far too obvious. It screams “Look over there!” at the top of its lungs.

For a long stretch, the movie seems to meander along a general path without developing its tale. When it finally decides to saw the woman in half, so to speak, we can see through the box and see her feet tucked safely beneath her. In other words, instead of a revelation, we get an explanation. In what amounts to a cut scene from the game, one of the characters simply tells us everything we need to know. It feels like its source material was merely regurgitated rather than built upon. For fans of the franchise and of horror it’s an entertaining watch filled with visual treats. It’s in the argument for best movie ever made based on a video game. I know that’s not saying much, but it is what it is. That said, it still feels like not only could it be better, it should be.

MY SCORE: 5.5/10

No comments:

Post a Comment