Directed by: Christophe Gans
R. 125 mins
Spectacular visuals and loyalty to it’s source material may please genre devotees, but others may find themselves struggling to stomach this violent film inspired by a video game. Based on the popular survival game of the same title, Silent Hill is adapted by director Christoph Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf) and features a surrealistic aesthetic only found in nightmares.
Radha Mitchell stars as Rose, a devoted mother who is struggling to find a cure for her daughter’s mysterious psychological issues. When doctors have no answers for Rose and her husband (Sean Bean), her only hunch is the name of a town that her daughter keeps repeating: Silent Hill. Upon arrival, Rose’s daughter suddenly disappears into the dark and seemingly abandoned town. Hopelessly searching through the fog, Rose discovers that she is not alone and that this town has an evil history – one which leaves her and her daughter as mere puzzle pieces to a much more sinister game.
The film is certainly engaging with unique visuals and gruesome set pieces, but the dialogue and outrageous storyline are constant reminders that this is all based on a video game. The story is structured episodically, much like the video game, where we see Rose experience black outs and escape from horrific creatures, just like we experienced in the video game. The film is loyal to it’s source material, and while that may be viewed as an achievement, others may find this series of hellish scenarios to be all for naught. Thankfully Mitchell is up to the physical challenges of such a role, giving her best to a performance that is both emotionally and physically draining – and let’s not forget the rampant religious symbolism! To escape into a truly nightmarish scenario, where things don’t always make sense and nothing is as it seems, is quite a treat in the visual department, but one that is overlong and muddled by an incoherent – even humorous – storyline. While Silent Hill fails on quite a few levels, the production and art direction have an undeniably engrossing scale that is fully committed to bringing this video game to life – blood, guts and all.