Starring: Radha Mitchell, Laurie Holden, Sean Bean, Alice Krige, Jodelle Ferland
Written By: Roger Avary, Nicolas Boukhrief, Christophe Gans
Directed By: Christophe Gans
Released in 2006
Rose Da Silva (Radha Mitchell) is the adopted mother of Sharon, a small girl who begins to sleepwalk and have terrible nightmares. The child repeatedly attempts to walk to a town she has seen in her dreams, but has no memory of doing so. Nothing will cure the girl of her affliction, so Rose decides to take her to the town she has been dreaming about: Silent Hill.
On the outskirts of town, Rose becomes separated from her daughter, and goes in search of her. The town is desolate, in a perpetual ashy haze1. It seems deserted, at first. She soon finds it is populated by the most vicious of citizens, some of which are not even human.
The action of this film is very closely modeled on the format of a video game, which of course, it originally was. Each "level" begins with a bit of dialogue between two or three characters, resembling the video sequences that play at different times throughout the game. Then there is a fair bit of exploration, lesser monsters, and then the boss of each level. Rose picks up and loses companions along the way, including an asskicking, hot female cop played by Laurie Holden. She moves from area to area, prodded on by clues she finds.
The monsters in this movie are taken from the original game and its sequels, and fans of the game may be confused by the addition of some monsters, ones that had very specific places in each storyline. For instance, one monster is found in the second game, and is created specifically to torment the protagonist of that story2. However, having played the game is not a prerequisite for enjoying the movie.
Near the end, just as in a video game, a long flashback sequence pieces together everything you have seen so far. If you have been paying attention, and actively engaging in plot analysis, none of it will surprise you. The clues throughout the movie make it quite clear what has been going on.
This movie was well done visually, which is indicative of little more than a large budget and some directorial savvy. It represents a compromise between making a movie that will meet all the demands of fans of the original game, and making a movie that general audiences will enjoy. Certain elements have been changed (the gender of the main character, for starters), but most of the changes are not as drastic.
What kept this movie from being great was a complete lack of characterization. Characters who have just faced things that would utterly traumatize a normal human being, escape narrowly with their lives, only to rush into harm's way once more. The outside storyline, with Christopher Da Silva (Sean Bean) searching for his wife and child, feels tacked-on and fake3. He acts out of character, and no attempt is made to explain his actions. Yes, it is plausible that a mother would put herself in harms way for her child, that a cop would do the same for a woman she has never met, and a husband might go to extraordinary lengths to find his family. But these people have no ego; they simply do what they know is right. And that isn't realistic.
This movie is entertaining, fast-paced, and grotesque, but the characterization problems prevent it from being truly horrifying.
1. Silent Hill is based on the real town of Centralia, Pennsylvania. Myles has been there; he swears it is quite freaky.
2. Erik Fish sez: "Akira Yamaoka and I agree that Red P is not just a creation of James. Saying that Red Pyramid was solely conceived by James in Silent Hill 2 is just one of the explanations for his existence. James is just one point of view. Another perspective is to remember that Silent Hill existed before James and that Red P was one of the executioners in the original history of the town. So clearly, there is not one particular or exclusive manifestation of him as an entity." -- Christophe Gans
3. Avalyn sez: Here's an interesting bit of trivia: Sean Bean originally wasn't in the script. When the writers turned it into the studio, they rejected it on the basis that there were no men at all in the story. So Bean's role is really just an afterthought.