In 1921, England is overwhelmed by the loss and grief of World War I. Hoax exposer Florence Cathcart visits a boarding school to explain sightings of a child ghost. Everything she believes unravels as the 'missing' begin to show themselves.
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Sharon Da Silva wakes up every night screaming about "silent hill". Pursued by a police officer suspicious of her motives and swerving to avoid another child her adoptive mother crashes the car knocking herself unconscious. When Rose Da Silva awakens to find her adopted child is missing, she searches the fog and ash blanketed town for her beloved daughter.Written by
Great ideas, creepy atmosphere and eerie mood but the rest is badly executed
I remember I sat down to play Silent Hill a couple of years ago because the mystery genre intrigued me and the game had an interesting look to it, so I started running through the abandoned town of 'Silent Hill' as the main player. I stopped playing very soon because, in truth, not a whole lot was happening. It was mostly an uncomfortable experience, eerily lit and hauntingly scored. I could feel an intense build-up in that foggy place but I never reached the culmination, so I gave up. OK, fine - I was scared.
Years later this film adaptation is bravely made by Christophe Gans and, even though I'd played less than ten minutes of the game, I immediately recognised the haunting visuals of the abandoned city. So 'well done' here is an understatement. It is superbly breathed new life into.
The plot has been glossed over slightly in a Hollywood fashion, but captures the essence of its characters and storyline - which is: as a last resort, a mother takes her ill daughter to a place she often mentions in her sleep - a place near where she was adopted from. But the hope the mother has for her daughter's recovery quickly shatters and turns into despair when the little girl vanishes in the misty mysterious old town.
I truly cannot credit the atmosphere of this film enough. Christophe Gans has successfully captured the eerie mood of Silent Hill and it is a nightmarish place - a fog-enshrouded hell that shifts between two modes: barren ashen daylight and a gruesome decaying state with fiery ember, demons and enhanced by chilling (and very sudden) sound effects. It's strangely fascinating, surreal and above all frightening.
The problems of Silent Hill (2006) are that there are not nearly enough build-ups. They should have been used not only to stay faithful to the video game upon which it was based but to wield tension in the right way and shock us when the build-up finally culminates. But here we are introduced to horrid creatures early on and often without much foreshadowing devices. Because they are presented to us so generously and clear-viewed, they are not that scary. At all. Some even manage a raised eyebrow, like the crawly CGI cripples.
In the end, I think this is quality horror entertainment and probably one of the better game-to-film adaptations, abut it is much too chaotic - too many monsters and too often and too clearly to be frightening. The mood and atmosphere are what is frightening and so it should have been used even more in Silent Hill, but instead the director feels pressured to introduce creatures to satisfy mainstream audiences' need for bloody gorefest and kinetic action.
7 out of 10
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