I admit: I went into this film with the very lowest of expectations. And even though I've never played the video game, I was prepared for the worst (I still have bad flashbacks from House of the Dead), but fortunately, Christophe Gans is not Uwe Bowl.
The most striking thing about Silent Hill is how absolutely beautiful it is. Like Gan's last film, Brotherhood of the Wolf, I sometimes got so lost in studying the set details or gazing at a building that I forgot the story narrative -- not that there was much, mind you. But come on kids, this is a horror film based on a game. How much plot, exactly, do you expect there to be? Really the most important thing about a horror movie is that it deliver the heebie-jeebies, and boy howdy, does Silent Hill deliver.
Rose Da Silva (the ever beautiful Radha Mitchell), and her husband (Sean Bean) have a small problem. Their adopted daughter Sharon (Kingdom Hospital's Jodelle Ferland, cementing her name yet again as the spooky-looking child with the large eyes) has disturbing, and sometimes dangerous, sleep walking incidents in which she yells out the name "Silent Hill". Determined to solve the mystery, Rose takes off with her daughter in a car to the town that bears the same name -- a deserted ghost town that hovers over still-burning fires which wiped out most of the residents years ago. After crossing over the bridge to town, the car crashes, Sharon is lost, and that's where all hell breaks lose, only it's not the kind of hell you're used to seeing.
While Rose combs the town for her now-lost daughter through streets raining with ash, burned out buildings, and catacomb like cages, Silent Hill throws us a number of super-creepy town inhabitants. Burning, screaming charcoal-babies, pulsating no-armed things that spit out acid, barbed-wired freaks, flesh eating beetle bugs, and a giant, pyramid headed monster with the biggest sword I've ever seen.
Keep in mind, I don't scare easily, but these guys all made me twitch -- in particular a pack of blinded nurses, all with surgical knives, scalpels, etc., that Rose must tread through carefully because they will kill her instantly if she makes one wrong move. *shiver*
The script does lose momentum a little bit with the whole husband sub-plot (apparently Sean Bean's character was a studio requested write in, because the script had no male characters -- and man, can you TELL it was a last minute addition), and some would argue the steadily built upon religious plot arc is a bit ridiculous, but I have to say: I love me some freaky religious fanatics, especially if they are REALLY freaky (Hello, Alice Krige, I'm looking at you -- nobody plays freaky better), and absolutely deserve to get their comeuppance. I was only wishing that Amanda Plummer had been involved somehow, as she would have fit right in.
And fear not, gore fans. In addition to all the monster-rific creations, there is plenty o'blood to be shed. Lots, and lots, and lots of it - in fact. I was quite happy with what I like to call "the splatter factor" of the special effects. And whoa, those were some impressive special effects -- especially the ones of the non-CGI variety.
All in all, I believe it really did a decent job creating a creepy story with lots of scary gore, and of course, leaving it wide open for a sequel at the end. I found it highly entertaining, and would definitely pick it up on DVD if I found it for around $10. Silent Hill 2, anyone? I just hope there's as much splatter...and maybe some new monsters.