Silent Hill

There's something strange about Silent Hill.  It's doesn't stink as bad as most other recent adaptations of video games.  This is probably because Uwe Boll (BloodRayne) has nothing to do with it.  Christopher Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf, Crying Freeman) is helming this one.  Gans has shown in the past that he can make a decent action film, and he does wonders here with his visuals.  However, the screenplay, written by Roger Avery (Rules of Attraction, Crying Freeman) based on a story by Gans and Nicolas Boukhrief (Cash Truck, Le Plaisir) is too long and too dense for its own good.  This may make sense for somebody who has hours to wrap him/herself into an eerie video game, but Gans should have whittled away some of the excess to make his movie flow better.

Silent Hill is an abandoned town, destroyed by fire years ago.  Nobody seems to know what happened to the town, and those that do are unwilling to talk about it (why they are is never clear, even after the movie ends).  All that Rose Da Silva (Radha Mitchell, Melinda and Melinda, Finding Neverland) knows is that her daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland, Wes Craven Presents:  They) is very sick.  She sleepwalks and has horrific nightmares, all while mentioning Silent Hill.  Against the wishes of her husband Christopher (Sean Bean, Flightplan, North Country), Rose takes her child into the abandoned town and promptly disappears.

Here is where things get creepy.  And convoluted.  Ashes fall continuously on Rose.  She runs after a little girl who keeps running away.  There are a few other people in town, but they are either completely loony over very menacing.  Then, air raid sirens will ring and an unnatural darkness falls.  When light returns, strange, deformed monsters prowl the buildings searching for anything to destroy.  At the same time, Christopher searches the same city and often the same rooms, but finds no trace of Rose, the other survivors, or any of the strange things that Rose sees.

Gans does a good job creating the mood.  The town looks absolutely trashed.  Weird men in hazmat-looking suits are chasing her.  Other, deformed human-like things are too.  A creepy piano theme plays every time she gets closer to figuring something out.  But this is as close as Silent Hill gets to being good.  Gans gets too repetitive, dragging out the story for longer than necessary.  There is a lot of exposition, but nobody seems to be saying anything.  It's frustrating because there is too much double-talk that does little but draw out the story.  This will probably end up confusing people, only because the backstory is pretty dense.  Moreover, nobody seems to listen to other people.  Dialogue sounds stilted and artificial, like a movie trying to sound self-important rather than natural.  Silent Hill also feels more like a video game than a movie.  Rose has to do certain tasks (get to Point A, evade Monster B, navigate through a maze,...) then watch cut-scenes to discover more backstory and figure out what to do next.  The result is not enough to make Silent Hill a decent movie, but it is good enough to ensure the he never sinks to the level of Boll.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
2 hours, 5 minutes, Rated R for strong horror violence and gore, disturbing images, and some language.

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