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11 reviews, 110 user ratings

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Silent Hill
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by Jay Seaver

"The annoying thing is, this could have been good."
2 stars

At the turn of the century, a French filmmaker named Christophe Gans made one of the best action/adventure films in recent memory, "The Brotherhood of the Wolf". Since that time, he's been attached to other promising-sounding projects, but they all seemed to get stuck in development hell somewhere along the line. His name being attached to the "Silent Hill" movie was a surprise, but one which perhaps said good things about a film derived from a video game than rather than bad things about his career. The good news is, that turned out to be the case. The bad news is, it's not nearly enough.

Gans is a talented director, and he and his crew throw some great, creepy visuals up on screen. He's good at using special effects, he can stage a heck of an action scene, and he's not bad at building tension at all. When the movie finally got to its big ending set piece, it kicked into pretty high gear, delivering a whole raft of nasty/fun gross-out bits and a suitably cataclysmic finale. I'd be pretty willing to absolve him of blame for all the parts that aren't up to snuff - not reasonable, I know, but I loved "Brotherhood" so much - except that the thing could probably stand to lose twenty minutes, and his name did pop up when the writing credits appeared on screen. Sure, Roger Avary is credited with the screenplay, but screwing things up this bad takes a team effort.

The basic idea is only kind of stupid - cute adopted elementary schooler Sharon DaSilva (Jodelle Ferland) is sleepwalking during nightmares, saying the name "Silent Hill". Mother Rose (Radha Mitchell) finds out there's a Silent Hill in West Virginia, and Sharon came from a WV orphanage, so maybe by taking her there they'll be able to jog whatever repressed infant memory is causing it. Of course, she doesn't read quite enough on the internet; it's up to her husband Christopher (Sean Bean) to find out that the town is abandoned, its toxic air fed by still-smoldering coal fires underneath. By the time he finds this out and calls her, Rose and Sharon have entered the obligatory zone of spooky bad cell phone receptions and irritated Cybil Bennett, a local cop (Laurie Holden). Rose runs off the road, Sharon wanders off, and while trying to find her, Rose and Cybil discover that the fog and smoke are perhaps the least dangerous things they have to deal with.

So... okay. The plot of Silent Hill is kick-started by the characters doing a whole bunch of very stupid things; it's got to be something like half an hour into the movie before most audience members will look at anything Rose does and consider it a wise course of action. That sort of thing is irritating but not fatal; it's presented as less-than-brilliant moves that people advise her against, so what follows can be as the tragic results of her actions. It's the mechanics of the rest of the film that are the real problem. In a video game, going to a spot, finding a scrap of paper, and then making your way to the place indicated feels natural - it is, after all, a game, even if it has had a story grafted onto it. Once it's happening with actual people, though,it is quickly recognized as an absurd way to go about business. Rose and Sharon are looking for a nine-year-old girl; while it's reasonable to assume that her hand-drawn picture of a school might be pointing you in the right direction, how does what you fish out of the mouth of a mutilated corpse logically direct your actions after that? This is a search and rescue, not a spooky scavenger hunt!

The script gives us pretty weak dialogue, too - the characters say very little that's not clunky exposition. This gives the cast very little to work with. Making the best of a bad situation is Radha Mitchell, who at least seems sincere and driven by love for her daughter. It's not a great performance, by any means, but we believe it. Alice Krige is icily malevolent as the religious fanatic with the answers, and Deborah Kara Unger is the right kind of miserable as a mysterious second mother without her daughter. It's downhill after that, though. Laurie Holden is robotic, often to the point where I wondered if she were trying to mimic stilted videogame delivery (heck, when she first appears on-screen, I thought her gait was a spoof on the inhuman way gaming characters walk, but it might just be the only way she can move in that form-fitting costume). Jodelle Ferland plays Sharon in a way that's so sugary that I almost expected her to substitute W sounds for R sounds. She's a little better when the movie gets into possession/doppelganger territory, but not that much. Sean Bean and Kim Coates as the detective he encounters just outside Silent Hill are stuck delivering exposition. Lots and lots of exposition.

I've never played the game(s), so I can't say whether Gans and Avary have a problem with being too faithful to the game or straying from it, but even if they hit the sweet spot of faithfulness, they didn't make a very good movie. It's got some nice atmosphere, and while that can be enough for a horror movie, this one runs on a little long - when you've got both DaSilva parents basically learning the same thing, there's got to be some redundancies that can be cut out. When Gans gets into the mood to freak the audience out, he's not bad at doing that at all, but he doesn't use the time between those moments to unnerve us, or make us curious, or give us a false sense of security; it's just functional getting from point A to point B.

Which is unfortunate. This movie has the ability to impress, but immediately after it does so, it tends to fritter that good will away.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14326&reviewer=371
originally posted: 05/05/06 20:18:46
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User Comments

3/13/17 morris campbell beautiful but boring 1 stars
10/06/11 Kevin Breece beautiful movie. probably the best game-to-movie adaptation i have seen. 5 stars
6/14/11 Allen Stays true to the franchise, right down to the "What the HELL just happened?" at the end. 5 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles Awesome 5 stars
10/01/10 bored mom This film lacks the first two games' truly subtle, carefully thought-out sensibilities. 3 stars
8/19/09 Jo Not played the games but movie was good. Especially now i get the ending! roll on movie 2!! 4 stars
12/01/08 Jojo i thought it was bad ass, but i love the games 4 stars
11/27/08 Jon C. My Full Review (fix spaces) www0.epinions.com /review/mvie_mu-1156476/content_228082421380 4 stars
10/09/08 Andyyyy its ok as a movie, nothing to the game, the plot is %$#!ed up, explains nothin 3 stars
8/26/08 Shaun Wallner Bloody Awesome!!! 5 stars
7/13/08 Pyrix An interesting horror piece, certainly better than most game-to-movie adaptations 4 stars
5/10/08 Ryan If you don't understand the ending use common sense, the haze outside her house, 4 stars
4/25/08 Karrie Millheim Scared me big time! Horror lovers are gonna love this one 5 stars
3/16/08 Tosh its quite good as an horror movie, more amusing than scary. loved the open end. 4 stars
4/17/07 shyguy Great casting of Dahlia and Cybil, but a REALLY stupid plot 2 stars
3/19/07 Anthony G Best video game to movie adaptation ever made, still not THAT great overall. 4 stars
3/08/07 cokehead wasn't scarry, just weird. what a piece of shit. 2 stars
3/08/07 johnnyfog I liked Cybil. But otherwise, pointless 2 stars
2/27/07 Beau Greatly made, superb performances but a dull plot and it got silly towards the end 3 stars
2/04/07 Mark Helling not great, but its so extremely well made u wont care. not very scary, but has its moments 4 stars
2/01/07 Abs Preety good movie.Music set the scary tone for the whole film,but last 20min was a letdown 4 stars
1/10/07 Jake This movie pretty much just didn't do anything but such 2 stars
1/09/07 del Roger Avary fucked this up BAD. 3 stars
10/23/06 Indrid Cold Good screen translation, but still the movie doesn't even approach the game's brilliance. 3 stars
10/23/06 AJ Muller mood and visuals make it work; operates on 'nightmare logic' and is quite effective at it 5 stars
10/22/06 nie nie it so reflect the game. better than resident evil. i love it (wit some exception) 4 stars
10/17/06 GC Watch it for the visuals..nothing more..and not scary...plot dumb/characters lame 3 stars
10/17/06 Marvin Schulte It's a punch in the face of every single fan of the games. 1 stars
10/16/06 John Best game to movie ever! But you should play the game before seeing the movie. it helps. 5 stars
10/09/06 Homuncolos U shouldnt judge a movie on if its scary, since who would get scared just from a movie? 5 stars
10/08/06 Jim If you play the games, you'll love it; if not, you'll be just as baffled as my wife was. 5 stars
10/06/06 Clive Was A Good Film But I Havent Played The Game...This May Be Why I was Confused At The Ending 4 stars
10/04/06 pete.chesworth great game but glad I did not pay to see the movie. 2 stars
9/30/06 Randy if you didnt understand the movie your an idiot. get some common sence and watch it again. 4 stars
9/29/06 Bob Smith T 4 stars
9/23/06 Nicole This movie was exellent , but I did'nt understand the ending. 4 stars
9/18/06 daveyt I enjoyed it, liked the ending, visuals were great. Not exactly a classic, but not that bad 4 stars
9/16/06 hector if you didnt PLAY THE GAME you wont UNDERSTAND IT so you wont like 5 stars
9/14/06 Sophie Beats most Hollywood horrors! 5 stars
9/12/06 Ian pickering Mint film but the cop is a dick 5 stars
9/10/06 Cindy Brown didn't make much sense, yet I couldn't stop watching it 3 stars
9/06/06 Albert not true to the game, and about one tenth as scary,save your money,buy the game`s. 1 stars
9/05/06 HGTV fanatic great scary monsters, ending sucked, is they dead or just in a different dimesnion? 4 stars
9/02/06 HILARY I wasn't impressed. i got bored. i was confused at the end. it didnt scare me. lol.. 3 stars
9/01/06 ES Boring, gets interesting, gets retarded and then leaves you wondering what the ending means 2 stars
8/28/06 Casper I liked it - creatures were creepy, town was well-conceived, Rahda made this film work 4 stars
8/27/06 cindy interesting movie 4 stars
8/26/06 dorena ware whew, glad it was over. 3 stars
8/25/06 wanda mahoney it was very good movie, i like the eneding 5 stars
8/25/06 Richard Jojola This movie was awesome 5 stars
8/25/06 purplerose decent if you have played the games! 4 stars
8/25/06 Charles bundy I thought the film was teriffic, non-staop horror! 5 stars
8/24/06 Phillip Akers Very Grat movie best transofor mation of a game into a movie and most of all the gore 5 stars
8/24/06 LP The movie is suck but I even sucker wasting $4.90 at a local video store 1 stars
8/23/06 matt twisted, grotesque and sick as fuck 5 stars
8/16/06 Ian K. The best game-movie adaption known with brill visuals and sounds to draw you in 5 stars
8/01/06 dan a strange but rather good film 4 stars
7/28/06 Daniel This is one of the best movies I have seen in months. Play the game if you wanna enjoy it! 5 stars
6/29/06 Gretchen Seitz Starts off promisingly, but turns into psychobabble. 1 stars
6/24/06 Elix ONLY and ONLY for anyone who have played Silent hill 1,2 or 3 4 stars
6/11/06 Mike First movie I've EVER walked out on! So ridiculous and STUPID. TOTAL WASTE OF TIME!!! 1 stars
6/04/06 Huismijt Nice little movie! Go see it if you're a fan of the series. Don't take it so seriously!! 3 stars
5/29/06 Anthony G As a video game to movie adaptation it was great! As a normal movie? Not so much... 5 stars
5/19/06 rosebud cybill is the new lesbian icon 5 stars
5/17/06 Alfred Guy Good creatures, but uneven as a whole. 3 stars
5/15/06 Ashley I loved the movie, I just didn't like the end. It left too much open ended. 4 stars
5/15/06 allie most horrible movie i've seen since blair witch project! 1 stars
5/09/06 San Lamar go see it! 5 stars
5/08/06 Tranquil Made for fans of the series, good visuals and recreation of some aspects. 4 stars
5/08/06 ryan good movie tells how the girl and wife got to be lost there and the before to when the husf 5 stars
5/06/06 Charlene Javier A bummer for fans of the game... 2 stars
5/05/06 Chris Buchanan Fan of the games. Fan of the movie. It's not your typical game-based movie: It doesn't suck 5 stars
5/05/06 matthew flynn a little too ove explained in some areas and under in others 4 stars
5/03/06 mandisa robinson the movie was good 4 stars
5/03/06 David I've seen scarier things at a five year old's birthday party, what a waste of two hours.... 1 stars
5/01/06 Mase Like watchign someone else play a barely comprhensible video game. Avoid!! 1 stars
5/01/06 Brandi Robertson The movie is hard to follow, drawn out, weird, and too long. 3 stars
5/01/06 chris f very tense and scary movie exellent!!! 5 stars
5/01/06 Patrick B Hey Im from W. Va and we have very few towns that look like "close to hell" 3 stars
5/01/06 Josh Standlee Scary as Hell! I won't be able to sleep right for at least a week! 5 stars
4/29/06 Sergey Konyshev I was so lost at the end, please explain how the wife and husband are in different worlds? 2 stars
4/28/06 Laz Moreland Scary and awesome! 5 stars
4/27/06 jimmy saville the longest, most boring film ever. Id ask for a refund if I could 1 stars
4/27/06 Jen Wilson Not good- would never reccomend this movie to anyone 1 stars
4/27/06 Farron Watson Some of the most disturbing imagery I've ever seen. Agony as a visual art form. 4 stars
4/26/06 Jon A laudable addition to the Silent Hill name, but not without flaws. They should make SH2! 4 stars
4/25/06 Vikki Tries too hard, but appropriately frightening! 4 stars
4/24/06 Troy G Changed cult from the game from summoner of deamon to opposition of the deamon. 4 stars
4/24/06 Anthony G They did pyramid head very well, created a great vibe, ending was lacking. 4 stars
4/24/06 elliot comparing this stylish film to plan 9 proves some of the critics here are idiots. 5 stars
4/24/06 victoria schall answer a question on Silent Hill 3 stars
4/24/06 Josh Haberman A Silent Hill Fan must see! 4 stars
4/24/06 BrianWilly Scary and gory fun. 5 stars
4/23/06 :) FINALLY!..A game movie that doesn't suck! 5 stars
4/23/06 Greyjack Cool visuals, but needed more Pyramid Head. 3 stars
4/23/06 MorallySound The movie makes sense if you dig through all the layers of ploy. Use your brain. 5 stars
4/22/06 matt Not quite what I was expecting, but pretty cool 4 stars
4/22/06 Adrian It's pretty. Really pretty. But mindless as well. 4 stars
4/22/06 The Talking Elbow Appreciated quite well as art. 5 stars
4/22/06 mike awesome 5 stars
4/22/06 Eevil Wolfie Visuals are nightmarish when they are there but the story seems to drag unnessisarily. 3 stars
4/22/06 bizenya it blew my fucking mind. 5 stars
4/22/06 Ole Man Bourbon It was pretty fun, but also kind of like a film version of a run-on sentence. 3 stars
4/21/06 Toilet Bowl Well-made, intelligent, scary - might not be for everyone 5 stars
4/21/06 ducka The best videogame adaptation ever 5 stars
4/21/06 KingNeutron I enjoyed it, even tho I never played the game. Genuinely scary in parts. 4 stars
4/21/06 Bunuel People confused by surrealism need not apply. 4 stars
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  21-Apr-2006 (R)
  DVD: 22-Aug-2006



[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Christophe Gans

Written by
  Roger Avary

  Radha Mitchell
  Sean Bean
  Laurie Holden
  Deborah Kara Unger
  Kim Coates
  Tanya Allen

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