When a mothers seeks answers about her adoptive daughter’s sleepwalking episodes that threaten the poor child’s life, Rose (Radha Mitchell) is lead to Silent Hill, the town her daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) keeps screaming out during her episodes. While stopped at a gas station to ask direction to Silent Hill, Rose attracts the attention of a motorcycle cop, played by Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden), she is followed by the officer and ultimately Rose crashes on the abandoned outskirts of the town and is knocked unconscious. When she wakes, her daughter Sharon is missing and falling ashes encase the town. Now in search of her daughter, Rose experiences bizarre alternate reality shifts, mysterious terrifying creatures and the most dangerous of all, the people who inhabit the town.
Based on the video game of the same name, Silent Hill, released in 2006 and directed by Christophe Gans, is horror at its finest. Having never played the game until last year, I was unfamiliar with the storyline when I first saw the film; I believe this was to my advantage, for I had not formed any expectations going in. It’s to my understanding a lot of people were annoyed that the characters were changed (the father was the main character in the game) but that is to be expected for die hard fans.
I became a fan of Radha Mitchell after seeing this film because I found her to be a genuinely good actress. Even though I had seen Pitch Black, she still did not really make an impression on me until this role. Sean Bean who plays her husband, had such a minute role, he’s not worth even speaking of.
Now, getting to the good stuff, the horror.
Like the video game, the film uses the darkness, the unexpected, horrific monsters and surreal settings to freak out the audience. Most monsters were not CGI but rather real people in a costume, which created more realism and was very effective. Pyramid Head (in the video game, the pyramid shaped helm was designed to create an iconography of ‘pain’) was the scariest thing in this film, with his humungous floor-scraping knife and ominous presence. The scalpel-wielding, convulsing nurses Rose encounters in the hospital are something from nightmares, with their clickety-click, twitching and possessed movement. It was one of my favorite scenes.
Here is a behind the scenes look on how it was filmed. It’s a major spoiler, so if you haven’t seen the film, do not watch it.
I do not scare easily. I have been watching horror films since I was too young to actually be watching them (five years old), so it takes a lot to get my skin to crawl, for me to flinch and to be creeped out, and Silent Hill did every single one. Every time that horn blew to signal the shift in realities within the town, warning of impending doom, my skin prickled with goosebumps.
The backstory to the drama behind all this horror is nothing new. Sharon is poor innocent girl that is taken for a witch and bullied and ostresized at school. The townsfolk are mostly backward in their way of thinking and refuse to change their ways. Think Salem witch hunts of the 1500′s. This film needs a theme that people can relate to so it works.
This film has joined the ranks as one of the Top 5 Scary Movies I’ve seen. Watch this horror thriller with the light off and with a friend.
Silent Hill 2 was slated to come out in 2011, but plans have be stalled due to director’s Roger Avary’s unfortunate legal problems, so the release date is still up in the air.
Running Time: 125 minutes
Here are the variant posters.