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Overall Rating
3.25

Awesome: 20.45%
Worth A Look: 23.86%
Average: 23.3%
Pretty Bad25%
Total Crap: 7.39%

11 reviews, 110 user ratings


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Silent Hill
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by Brian McKay

"Made by fans and for fans, but not a guaranteed fan-pleaser"
3 stars

Being an avid fan of the SILENT HILL video game series, It's admittedly difficult to put that fanhood aside in order to compose some kind of impartial review. But the bottom line is, the film was made primarily for fans of the games (and I mean the hardcore fans who played all the way through, not the ones who played it for a few hours before moving on to Dance-Dance Revolution), which means that two types of people are likely to be left out in the cold: Purist fans who will balk at all of the liberties taken with the story, and non-fans who are wondering what the fuck they've been watching for the last two hours.

In defense of director Christopher Gans (BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF) and writer Roger Avary (KILLING ZOE), both of whom are self-proclaimed fanboys of the games, SILENT HILL is not the easiest of games to adapt for the big screen. Although many will (and already have) complain about the film's vague and confusing plot, many many more have been arguing about the vague and confusing plot of the video games for years. The first SILENT HILL game alone consists of four or five different endings depending on choices made in the game, and all of them are fairly nebulous.

However, I have always contended that the strength of the SILENT HILL games is found in their uniquely horrifying atmosphere, rather than its obscure plot machinations that are full of vague references to demons, cults, rituals, and otherwordly dimensions. In that regard, the film SILENT HILL succeeds equally well as an exercise in horrific atmosphere, taking its sweet time in the first act to build suspense and a sense of intrigue about the "ghost town" of Silent Hill.

When their adopted daughter, Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) begins to have frequent nightmare-induced bouts of sleepwalking, concerned mom Rose (Rahda Mitchell) decides to take Sharon to the place that she always mentions just before she wakes up - an abandoned town called Silent Hill. Once a prosperous mining town, it has since been left empty due to the coal mine fires that have been smoldering under the town's surface for decades, leaving the atmosphere full of thick haze and snow-like falling ash.

Rose takes Sharon there against the objections of her husband, Christopher (Sean Bean), who thinks that medication is the answer to Sharon's problems. But Rose knows better, and is convinced that the only real answer to Sharon's condition can be found in Silent Hill. But upon entering the town limits, Rose swerves off of the road and passes out, only to wake up and discover that Sharon has disappeared. As she tries to track down her daughter on foot, she quickly discovers that things are far from normal. The whine of an air raid siren warns of an impending darkness, a darkness full of all kinds of disturbing and unsavory creatures. As she investigates the town, discovering clues that lead her towards her daughter, she also encounters an unlikely ally in kick-ass motorcycle cop Cybill Bennet (Laurie Holden) , as well as a group of ragged survivors who take refuge in the town's church, which is apparently the only bastion against the frequently encroaching darkness and its creatures. Meanwhile, Christopher goes looking for his missing wife and daughter, finding none of the same nightmarish occurrences in the abandoned husk of a town, but finding some troubling answers about his daugther's origins in the county archives of the next town over.

All in all, the story unfolds in a manner very similar to the games, with characters discovering clues that lead them to the next location, where more clues are to be found. While this may be an engaging way to draw in someone playing a video game, it's a little less intriguing watching it happen to someone else on the big screen. However, if there is one element that SILENT HILL absolutely nails, it is the game's atmosphere. Visually, the film is a dead-ringer for the games (even borrowing several of the camera angles), and the town's constant physical transformations as it shifts between planes of reality are astonishing. Likewise, the musical choices are impeccable. I couldn't tell whether they were recycled from the games, or newly composed using the in-game music as a template (I suspect the latter), but either way, the score is perfectly haunting, and the inclusion of "You're Not Here" fromt the SILENT HILL 3 game soundtrack over the closing credits is sure to be a fan-pleasing touch.

But while Gans and Avary make a laudable attempt to include elements of all of the games, they may have tried to cover too many bases. The inclusion of monsters like the one known by fans as "Pyramid Head" are a nice homage, but ultimately feel superfluous as no explanation for their presence is offered and they quickly drop off of the radar by the film's unfortunate misstep of a third act, where it tries to explain too much through a long and clumsy flashback segment that is accompanied by an equally long and clumsy voice-over full of expository dialogue. But the more they try to explain things, the more convoluted the matter becomes. If anything, Gans and Avary are guilty of trying to over-explain things that are best left open to interpretation, as they are in the games. This also seems like an effort to dumb down some of the backstory, as the denizens of Silent Hill are portrayed as simple religious fanatics who want to burn all outsiders as witches, rather than the more sinister cult members of the games who practiced ritual child abuse in order to bring forth a manifestation of their dark god. Alas, many of the Lovecraftian overtones of the game are absent here, and many of the interesting ideas about the town's history presented early on are pretty much overlooked and forgotten by the film's finale. Nevertheless, the film partially redeems itself with an appropriately grim and enigmatic ending that leaves the film perfectly open-ended for another trip back to mysterious town in another movie.

All in all, the filmmakers may be hedging too many bets, trying to make the film both acceptable to fans and accessible to newcomers. But while SILENT HILL is far from perfect, it is at the very least a valiant effort, and one that succesfully captures the primary elements of the horrific world of Silent Hill. Like the games, the final result is left open to the fans interpretation, and all of the nods to the various games in the franchise alone are worth a repeat viewing. The fans can only hope that in the future, the filmmakers will learn from mistakes made in the narrative process, while proceeding full-bore with the film's grimly distinct atmosphere.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14326&reviewer=258
originally posted: 04/25/06 03:17:30
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User Comments

3/13/17 morris campbell beautiful but boring 1 stars
10/07/11 Kevin Breece beautiful movie. probably the best game-to-movie adaptation i have seen. 5 stars
6/15/11 Allen Stays true to the franchise, right down to the "What the HELL just happened?" at the end. 5 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles Awesome 5 stars
10/02/10 bored mom This film lacks the first two games' truly subtle, carefully thought-out sensibilities. 3 stars
8/20/09 Jo Not played the games but movie was good. Especially now i get the ending! roll on movie 2!! 4 stars
12/02/08 Jojo i thought it was bad ass, but i love the games 4 stars
11/28/08 Jon C. My Full Review (fix spaces) www0.epinions.com /review/mvie_mu-1156476/content_228082421380 4 stars
10/09/08 Andyyyy its ok as a movie, nothing to the game, the plot is %$#!ed up, explains nothin 3 stars
8/27/08 Shaun Wallner Bloody Awesome!!! 5 stars
7/13/08 Pyrix An interesting horror piece, certainly better than most game-to-movie adaptations 4 stars
6/16/08 PAUL SHORTT NO THRILLS ON THIS HILL 1 stars
5/11/08 Ryan If you don't understand the ending use common sense, the haze outside her house, 4 stars
4/25/08 Karrie Millheim Scared me big time! Horror lovers are gonna love this one 5 stars
3/17/08 Tosh its quite good as an horror movie, more amusing than scary. loved the open end. 4 stars
4/17/07 shyguy Great casting of Dahlia and Cybil, but a REALLY stupid plot 2 stars
3/20/07 Anthony G Best video game to movie adaptation ever made, still not THAT great overall. 4 stars
3/09/07 cokehead wasn't scarry, just weird. what a piece of shit. 2 stars
3/09/07 johnnyfog I liked Cybil. But otherwise, pointless 2 stars
2/28/07 Beau Greatly made, superb performances but a dull plot and it got silly towards the end 3 stars
2/05/07 Mark Helling not great, but its so extremely well made u wont care. not very scary, but has its moments 4 stars
2/02/07 Abs Preety good movie.Music set the scary tone for the whole film,but last 20min was a letdown 4 stars
1/11/07 Jake This movie pretty much just didn't do anything but such 2 stars
1/10/07 del Roger Avary fucked this up BAD. 3 stars
10/24/06 Indrid Cold Good screen translation, but still the movie doesn't even approach the game's brilliance. 3 stars
10/24/06 AJ Muller mood and visuals make it work; operates on 'nightmare logic' and is quite effective at it 5 stars
10/22/06 nie nie it so reflect the game. better than resident evil. i love it (wit some exception) 4 stars
10/18/06 GC Watch it for the visuals..nothing more..and not scary...plot dumb/characters lame 3 stars
10/17/06 Marvin Schulte It's a punch in the face of every single fan of the games. 1 stars
10/17/06 John Best game to movie ever! But you should play the game before seeing the movie. it helps. 5 stars
10/10/06 Homuncolos U shouldnt judge a movie on if its scary, since who would get scared just from a movie? 5 stars
10/09/06 Jim If you play the games, you'll love it; if not, you'll be just as baffled as my wife was. 5 stars
10/06/06 Clive Was A Good Film But I Havent Played The Game...This May Be Why I was Confused At The Ending 4 stars
10/05/06 pete.chesworth great game but glad I did not pay to see the movie. 2 stars
10/01/06 Randy if you didnt understand the movie your an idiot. get some common sence and watch it again. 4 stars
9/30/06 Bob Smith T 4 stars
9/24/06 Nicole This movie was exellent , but I did'nt understand the ending. 4 stars
9/18/06 daveyt I enjoyed it, liked the ending, visuals were great. Not exactly a classic, but not that bad 4 stars
9/17/06 hector if you didnt PLAY THE GAME you wont UNDERSTAND IT so you wont like 5 stars
9/15/06 Sophie Beats most Hollywood horrors! 5 stars
9/13/06 Ian pickering Mint film but the cop is a dick 5 stars
9/11/06 Cindy Brown didn't make much sense, yet I couldn't stop watching it 3 stars
9/07/06 Albert not true to the game, and about one tenth as scary,save your money,buy the game`s. 1 stars
9/06/06 HGTV fanatic great scary monsters, ending sucked, is they dead or just in a different dimesnion? 4 stars
9/02/06 HILARY I wasn't impressed. i got bored. i was confused at the end. it didnt scare me. lol.. 3 stars
9/02/06 ES Boring, gets interesting, gets retarded and then leaves you wondering what the ending means 2 stars
8/29/06 Casper I liked it - creatures were creepy, town was well-conceived, Rahda made this film work 4 stars
8/28/06 cindy interesting movie 4 stars
8/27/06 dorena ware whew, glad it was over. 3 stars
8/26/06 wanda mahoney it was very good movie, i like the eneding 5 stars
8/25/06 Richard Jojola This movie was awesome 5 stars
8/25/06 purplerose decent if you have played the games! 4 stars
8/25/06 Charles bundy I thought the film was teriffic, non-staop horror! 5 stars
8/25/06 Phillip Akers Very Grat movie best transofor mation of a game into a movie and most of all the gore 5 stars
8/24/06 LP The movie is suck but I even sucker wasting $4.90 at a local video store 1 stars
8/24/06 matt twisted, grotesque and sick as fuck 5 stars
8/23/06 Stephanie I DONT GET THE ENDING .. IM COMFUSED-- I THOUGHT IT WAS PRETTY WORTHLESS 1 stars
8/17/06 Ian K. The best game-movie adaption known with brill visuals and sounds to draw you in 5 stars
8/02/06 dan a strange but rather good film 4 stars
7/28/06 Daniel This is one of the best movies I have seen in months. Play the game if you wanna enjoy it! 5 stars
6/29/06 Gretchen Seitz Starts off promisingly, but turns into psychobabble. 1 stars
6/24/06 Elix ONLY and ONLY for anyone who have played Silent hill 1,2 or 3 4 stars
6/12/06 Mike First movie I've EVER walked out on! So ridiculous and STUPID. TOTAL WASTE OF TIME!!! 1 stars
6/04/06 Huismijt Nice little movie! Go see it if you're a fan of the series. Don't take it so seriously!! 3 stars
5/29/06 Anthony G As a video game to movie adaptation it was great! As a normal movie? Not so much... 5 stars
5/20/06 rosebud cybill is the new lesbian icon 5 stars
5/18/06 Alfred Guy Good creatures, but uneven as a whole. 3 stars
5/16/06 Ashley I loved the movie, I just didn't like the end. It left too much open ended. 4 stars
5/15/06 allie most horrible movie i've seen since blair witch project! 1 stars
5/10/06 San Lamar go see it! 5 stars
5/09/06 DANNY I THOUGHT IT WAS PRETTY GOOD AS FAR AS THE SPL EFFECTS WENT, CREEPY & WEIRD BUT NOT SCARY 4 stars
5/09/06 Tranquil Made for fans of the series, good visuals and recreation of some aspects. 4 stars
5/09/06 ryan good movie tells how the girl and wife got to be lost there and the before to when the husf 5 stars
5/07/06 Charlene Javier A bummer for fans of the game... 2 stars
5/06/06 Chris Buchanan Fan of the games. Fan of the movie. It's not your typical game-based movie: It doesn't suck 5 stars
5/05/06 matthew flynn a little too ove explained in some areas and under in others 4 stars
5/04/06 mandisa robinson the movie was good 4 stars
5/03/06 David I've seen scarier things at a five year old's birthday party, what a waste of two hours.... 1 stars
5/02/06 Mase Like watchign someone else play a barely comprhensible video game. Avoid!! 1 stars
5/02/06 Brandi Robertson The movie is hard to follow, drawn out, weird, and too long. 3 stars
5/02/06 chris f very tense and scary movie exellent!!! 5 stars
5/01/06 Patrick B Hey Im from W. Va and we have very few towns that look like "close to hell" 3 stars
5/01/06 Josh Standlee Scary as Hell! I won't be able to sleep right for at least a week! 5 stars
4/29/06 Sergey Konyshev I was so lost at the end, please explain how the wife and husband are in different worlds? 2 stars
4/29/06 Laz Moreland Scary and awesome! 5 stars
4/28/06 jimmy saville the longest, most boring film ever. Id ask for a refund if I could 1 stars
4/28/06 Jen Wilson Not good- would never reccomend this movie to anyone 1 stars
4/27/06 Farron Watson Some of the most disturbing imagery I've ever seen. Agony as a visual art form. 4 stars
4/26/06 Jon A laudable addition to the Silent Hill name, but not without flaws. They should make SH2! 4 stars
4/26/06 Vikki Tries too hard, but appropriately frightening! 4 stars
4/25/06 Troy G Changed cult from the game from summoner of deamon to opposition of the deamon. 4 stars
4/25/06 Anthony G They did pyramid head very well, created a great vibe, ending was lacking. 4 stars
4/25/06 elliot comparing this stylish film to plan 9 proves some of the critics here are idiots. 5 stars
4/25/06 victoria schall answer a question on Silent Hill 3 stars
4/25/06 Josh Haberman A Silent Hill Fan must see! 4 stars
4/24/06 BrianWilly Scary and gory fun. 5 stars
4/24/06 :) FINALLY!..A game movie that doesn't suck! 5 stars
4/23/06 Greyjack Cool visuals, but needed more Pyramid Head. 3 stars
4/23/06 MorallySound The movie makes sense if you dig through all the layers of ploy. Use your brain. 5 stars
4/23/06 matt Not quite what I was expecting, but pretty cool 4 stars
4/23/06 Adrian It's pretty. Really pretty. But mindless as well. 4 stars
4/22/06 The Talking Elbow Appreciated quite well as art. 5 stars
4/22/06 mike awesome 5 stars
4/22/06 Eevil Wolfie Visuals are nightmarish when they are there but the story seems to drag unnessisarily. 3 stars
4/22/06 bizenya it blew my fucking mind. 5 stars
4/22/06 Ole Man Bourbon It was pretty fun, but also kind of like a film version of a run-on sentence. 3 stars
4/22/06 Toilet Bowl Well-made, intelligent, scary - might not be for everyone 5 stars
4/22/06 ducka The best videogame adaptation ever 5 stars
4/22/06 KingNeutron I enjoyed it, even tho I never played the game. Genuinely scary in parts. 4 stars
4/22/06 Bunuel People confused by surrealism need not apply. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  21-Apr-2006 (R)
  DVD: 22-Aug-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  31-Aug-2006



[trailer] Trailer


Directed by
  Christophe Gans

Written by
  Roger Avary

Cast
  Radha Mitchell
  Sean Bean
  Laurie Holden
  Deborah Kara Unger
  Kim Coates
  Tanya Allen



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