226. Silent Hill (US 2006)

director: Christophe Gans

Starring: Radha Mitchell, Laurie Holden, Sean Bean, Alice Krieg, Deborah Kara Unger

Cinematography: Dan Laustsen

Music: Jeff Dann, Akira Yakomota

Script: Roger Avery

Fact: Sean Bean sports a 'Blades Forever' tattoo on his right arm.

Lie: Sean Bean's brother Les sports an unsavoury 'LUDO" tattoo on his 'private part'

A runaway child regenerates a community of the damned.

Summary

Rose Da Silva's adopted child  Sharon roams the cliffs whilst sleep walking. She continually mentions the name 'Silent Hill. Rose takes Sharon to this sinister ghost town and Sharon disappears into the shadows. The town appears to be deserted and is bathed in a snowy half light due to the ashes of a thousand underground fires slowly falling to the ground. Rose and the police officer who has been tracking her (Cybill Bennett - Holden) are menaced by the creatures of hell as they continue their search. Silent Hill  hides a terrible secret : a tale of lynching, bullying and child murder.

Silent Hill is based on Konami's popular video game franchise, but don't let that put you off. The film was a five year labour of love for French director Gans and contains much to admire.

The film belongs to a mini genre of films which tell stories of characters trapped in another dimension (also known as "we don't have to do any research" by gleeful scriptwriters) and includes other films found on 'the list' such as City of the Dead, Carnival of Souls and Lost Continent.

Silent Hill's  cinematography is often outstanding and Gan's unearthly imagery and his creation of a sense of melancholy make up for some of the sillier aspects of the film. Yakomota's score (taken largely from the games) is another reason for this film's inclusion.

Effective performances from the two leads (Mitchell and Holden) and good support from veterans Unger and Krieg help to carry what is essentially a preposterous narrative and clunky script (from ex-Tarantino collaborator Avary).

Like most horror films of this ilk, the director, script and studio bosses seem to have to insist on an apocalyptic climax, whereas the quiet, spooky and unsettling atmospheric horror of the early scenes are far more effective. However, the film does have a wistful, post acocalyptic coda which goes some way to redressing the Hollywood fireworks near the end of the story.

There are strange symbolic allusions to the life of Christ and a number of nods to other films (particularly the traffic cop/Marian Crane sequences from Psycho) in a film with many faults, but equally, many admirable qualities.

7/10