Silent Hill (2006)
My Rating : ***.5
It’s always been said that a video game cannot be successfully adapted into a film. With SILENT HILL, director Christophe Gans (BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF) and screenwriter Roger Avary (KILLING ZOE) have the benefit of the atmospheric and often terrifying game series of the same name. With a budget reportedly in excess of $50 million, they wisely eschew dense plot in favor of a kaleidoscopic nightmare–culled from several volumes of the game series–designed to give horror fans what they crave.
Radha Mitchell (PITCH BLACK) stars as Rose Da Silva, a young mother whose adopted daughter Sharon speaks of the eponymous West Virginia mining town as she sleepwalks. Rose decides to take Sharon there in an attempt to discover why it haunts her dreams–but Silent Hill has been a ghost town since a series of underground coal fires in 1974, and the residents who stayed behind are the stuff of nightmares. SILENT HILL is notable for having a largely female cast (the male characters were reportedly added at the studio’s behest), with Mitchell, Deborah Kara Unger, Alice Krige, and Laurie Holden in the principal roles.
But the film’s real star is production designer Carol Spier (known for her frequent work with David Cronenberg), whose work makes the deserted town into a true vision of hell. Utilizing an effective combination of CGI and latex makeup effects, several of the creatures on display may upset more sensitive viewers, as will some of the carnage, which is strong for an R rating. On the other hand, seasoned horror fans and gamers who have been waiting to see a joystick-free version of SILENT HILL are likely to come away feeling like they’ve just taken a nightmare vacation to the spookiest town in America.