Usually, movies made from video games are plagued by inane scripts and bad acting. Silent Hill isn’t any different, but somehow it still manges to be pretty entertaining.
The premise is that a kid named Sharon (you’ll learn her name well in the first half hour, since most of the lines will be someone yelling, “SHARON!”) has mental breakdowns which cause her to draw scary pictures a la The Ring and almost fall off of cliffs a la The Ring. The kid’s visions all involve a town called Silent Hill (hey, that’s the name of the movie!) and since medication’s having no effect, her mother Rose decides to take her to the town to search for an answer.
Once they get to Silent Hill, Shannon disappears and lots of dead people start appearing, apparently related to a massive disaster that caused the town’s destruction years ago. Cue the scary industrial music and sudden camera cuts (a la The Ring). Meanwhile, a police officer comes to the aid (and somewhat inconvenience) of Rose while her husband sets out to find out where she’s gone and uncover-get ready for it-the secret of Silent Hill.
Once the necessary elements are in place, it quickly becomes apparent that this is not your typical horror movie, brimming with atmosphere but, frankly, not much else. The scenes feel tacked on and given that most of the dialogue is screaming, there’s not a lot of plot development until the end, which comes too late and tries too hard for the M. Night Shyamalan twist. Most of the time, the movie goes from monster to monster and creepy place to other creepy place, not trying for anything other than cheap scares.
Still, that’s enough to keep one’s attention, and the movie’s a good way to kill some time, even when the acting and script feel silly and scripted (one character says at one point, “they used to say this town was haunted-I think they was right” after about a straight hour of ghosts and zombies constantly popping up) and, well, like there should be a video game in between the scenes.
The fact is, the movie makers weren’t trying to make Citizen Kane, and you’d be silly to expect it. The stars of the show are the creatures that plague the town and the creepy juxtaposition of childhood innocence and the macabre (a la The Ring), and the fun what-the-hell-is-that factor that Silent Hill milks for all it’s worth.
Speaking of those creatures, by the way, big props to whoever designed them–the zombie/ghosts/monsters/whatever the hell they are are unique and creepy, moving with jerky movements and looking truly nightmarish. It’s hard to imagine more perfect illustrations of citizens of Hell, and it’s sad that the overall quality of the movie isn’t a bit higher to give them true potential to terrify.
As it stands, Silent Hill is the movie equivalent of its video game counterpart; fun and creepy, but not substantial or memorable enough to warrant a second play.