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  Publicity Stills of "Silent Hill"
(Courtesy from Shaw)

Genre: Horror/Thriller/Game
Director: Christophe Gans
Starring: Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Deborah Kara Unger, Kim Coates
RunTime: 2 hrs
Released By: Shaw
Rating: NC-16
(Violence and Gore)

Opening Day: 15 June 2006

Synopsis :

A child’s mysterious ailment. A helpless mother. An eerie, deserted city shrouded in mist, plagued by secrets.

The mysteries are only beginning to deepen.

When young mother Rose (Radha Mitchell) -- desperate to find a cure for her daughter Sharon’s bizarre illness -- refuses to accept a medical recommendation of psychiatric institutionalization, she flees with Sharon and heads for SILENT HILL, the town that her daughter continuously names in her sleep. Although her husband Christopher (Sean Bean) adamantly opposes, Rose is convinced the mysterious town holds the answers she so desperately needs. But as her car approaches the deserted city’s limits, a mysterious figure appears in the road, forcing Rose to swerve and crash. When she comes to, Sharon is gone, and suddenly Rose – accompanied by a determined police officer (Laurie Holden) from a nearby town -- is on a desperate quest in Silent Hill to find her child.

Immediately it’s clear that her destination – left alone since devastating coal fires ravaged Silent Hill -- is unlike any place she's ever been: smothered by fog, inhabited by a variety of strange, haunted beings, and periodically overcome by a living Darkness that literally transforms everything it touches. As Rose searches for her daughter, she begins to learn the history of Silent Hill – its violent, puritanical past and the origins of its accursed state -- and realizes that her daughter is just part of a larger, more terrifying destiny.

Movie Review:

As the Silent Hill theme hits the logo intro, we break into a tumultuous scene as Rose calls out to her daughter, Sharon, sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff. It may be a brief opener but one which conveys the mild sense of anxiety that will gradually build and take control over the next two hours. As a hardcore fan of the series, it's understandably difficult not to pinpoint every nudging facet that doesn't adhere to the source. There is nothing the matter, per se, with adapting video games into feature films, but in doing so the cinematic foundation should be sturdy enough to stand on its own. In other words, one shouldn't need to have played the game in order to appreciate, understand and enjoy the movie. So that first ten minutes were integral - not everyone is clued in about the story and it really is essential to deal with some plot formalities - so little Sharon calling out 'Silent Hill! Silent Hill!' in her sleep is rather banal to a fan but completely necessary in laying the groundwork.

Ten minutes later into the story, the sirens blast, echoing through the town, unknown to non-gamers, signals the most terrifying order imagine. It’s hard not to compare with its source but the absolute must for the film to be successful is its atmosphere. Can this movie possibly elicit the same degree of nail biting tension that you get from an interactive videogame experience? Emphatically I say YES. Remember the claustrophobic alley walk with the cigarette lighter in Silent Hill? Here it is, painstakingly recreated and just because you know what's coming doesn't mean it won't get you! It's an exercise, preparing you for one sick trip and it wastes no time in shredding your nerves.

"Silent Hill" is not for lacking memorably nightmarish imagery—the very first appearance of one of the ghouls and a climactic moment where Rose must make her way past a group of monstrous, scalpel-wielding nurses without touching them are creepy high points—but the core of the film is missing a soul and a purpose. But one can always argue that it wholeheartedly did follow through the essence of the game plot leaving more to come. By learning virtually nothing about Rose's life before this ordeal, it is up to actress Radha Mitchell to inject her character with the sympathy and depth missing from the written page which she lived up to her ability without getting tired.

Yamaoka's tracks of the game are littered throughout the film and even though there is notably no new ear candy to offer, each song blends almost seamlessly into the surroundings and draws the emotive change in the characters to your attention. While calling this the best videogame to film adaptation is due praise, it's not the best compliment you can pay considering the competition (or lack of). Calling this a very fine horror feature would be more in the way of proper acclaim, fans really do need to bear in mind this is a movie first and interpretation of the series second. The core relies on a simple story but as is the case with the best efforts in horror, Silent Hill adds to the foundation it's built upon - adding layers of subtext and leaving space for individual conclusion. This swings between the literal and the emblematic, touching on the ideals of motherhood and religion to the repercussions of brain washing and incendiary hatred.

Silent Hill is without a doubt an almost faithful adaptation of a video game. Now judging from how it stands, sadly, no matter how visually impressive Silent Hill may be at times, the incredibly weak story and exposition makes it a monotone fest for outsiders to the Silent Hill saga. Silent Hill could have been much better. No thanks to a weak, linear storyline, a mystery that depends on a lengthy flashback scene to explain the town’s dark history and a listless, sequel-ready wrap-up that leaves a major plot point unresolved. Without a strong first entry in a projected series, it’s hard to imagine anyone except hardcore videogame fans willing to venture back into the Silent Hill world.

Movie Rating:

(An almost faithful adaptation that will silently engulf you into a total atmospheric terror)

Review by Lokman B S

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