Silent Hill

Silent Hill is, it should be bloody obvious, based on the games of the same title. Now, I played Silent Hill on the PlayStation, and the movie departs from the gameplay quite dramatically in places, but, strangely, this doesn't detract from the movie.

A lot of the locations, sound effects, characters and scenes will be chillingly familiar to those who played the game, but for all that, the Silent Hill in the movie is a different place to the town in the game.

The story revolves around Rose (Radha Mitchell) and her daughter, Sharon (Jodell Ferland). Sharon, an adopted child, has taken to sleepwalking and often, while doing so, mentions the name "Silent Hill." Rose decides - in a barely explained weak plot device - that a visit to the town might help Sharon with her nocturnal ramblings, even after she reads up on the town and finds out about its horrific past. 30 years ago, the town was evacuated when an underground fire broke out, killing many of the residents. Now, the town is still empty and the fire still rages.

Add in some typical "dark" crayon drawings by the distressed child and anyone with a brain knows going to Silent Hill is a really bad idea.

Rose's husband, Chris (Sean Bean), has a brain. That's why he tries to do everything to stop her, including indirectly involving Cybil (Laurie Holden), a motorcycle cop whose demeanour seems to not-so-subtly hint that she was absent the day heterosexuality was issued to the class, and whose outfit seems to not-so-subtly hint that she might enjoy an afternoon with those handcuffs and a willing submissive.

Rose has an accident, Sharon disappears, the sirens go off and Silent Hill goes to hell without even bothering to load up the handbasket.

As I said, devotees of the game will recognise much of what's on the screen and coming out of the speakers, and many will remember exactly why the game gave them the creeps in the first place. But don't expect a plot that mirrors anything you did with your controller.

There's a twist, albeit a none-too-subtle one, or two. There's a side story which starts when Chris arrives at Silent Hill looking for his wife, only to find the road blocked by Gucci (Kim Coates), a cop whose demeanour, dialogue, outfit and every facial expression seem to not-so-subtly hint that he knows way more than he's letting on.

Oh, and this, like V for Vendetta, will probably rank high on the fundy's list of "movies that hate Christianity", but telling you why would be a spoiler.

Oh yeah, and the critics hate it. So did Mrs Doombreed.

I smell cult classic.

The movie has more than its fair share of jump moments, gore moments, and downright unsettling use of special effects, including the rather horrific climax.

And, annoyingly, it seems to have been written with the sequel in mind and doesn't tie up enough of the loose ends.

But don't set your sights too high and you'll like it. In one major respect, Silent Hill the movie is just like Silent Hill the game, which was a more intelligent version of Resident Evil.

Doombreed rating: ****

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