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SILENT HILL

SYNOPSIS:
Despite protests from her husband (Sean Bean), Rose (Radha Mitchell) sets out in the car with her adopted daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) headed for the ghost town of Silent Hill. Rose is unwilling to accept doctors' diagnosis that Sharon should be put under psychiatric care, and hopes to find some answers in the town whose name her daughter repeatedly calls while sleepwalking. But Silent Hill is unlike any other place Rose has ever been, inhabited by strange beings and enveloped in darkness. As she learns the town's history, she realizes Sharon is a pawn in a far larger game.

Review by Louise Keller:
'Shut your eyes, shut your eyes, it's just a bad dream,' says Radha Mitchell's Rose to her disturbed young daughter in Christophe Gans' Silent Hill. The scene comes shortly after the film's most preposterous one, in which Rose theatrically appears in a doorway, swathed in light, dramatically delivering the anti-climactic words 'It's ok, baby. I'm here.' It might have been Arnold Schwarzenegger announcing that he was about to save the world, such is the absurdity of the moment. The titters of laughter that rippled through the audience were undoubtedly not intended by the filmmaker, whose last work, Brotherhood of the Wolf, was an imaginative and classy affair. Over long with a muddled story and a gaggle of wasted talent, Silent Hill is a spectacular misfire.

Based on a video game and influenced by manga sensibilities, the implausibilities start at the beginning when Mitchell does much running, gasping and panting. 'What's happening?' she firstly asks herself, before asking a wild-haired stranger (an unrecognisable Deborah Kara Unger), in the dimly lit world of the ghost town filled with disjointed zombies, armies of cockroaches and barbed wire. The story involves witch hunting, sacrifice, judgement and revenge and the last 15 minutes offers enough spurting blood to satisfy the most blood thirsty. I caught myself sneaking a sly look at my watch after 35 minutes, inwardly groaning that there was yet another hour and a half to come.

There are a few creepy moments, and I liked the absurdity of the zombie nurses in high heels doing a Jackson-esque Thriller-like routine. But the story is ludicrous, never delivering either mandatory scares or involvement at any level. The production design is excellent, however, with its distinctive opaque low-light and ash flakes falling from dense cloudy skies. Mitchell should have followed her own advice though, and avoided this horror-fest disaster. As for Sean Bean as her lack-lustre screen husband, it is hard to imagine what attracted him at all.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

SILENT HILL (MA)
(US, 2006)

CAST: Radha Mitchell, Laurie Holden, Sean Bean, Deborah Kara Unger

PRODUCER: Don Carmody, Samuel Hadida

DIRECTOR: Christophe Gans

SCRIPT: Roger Avary, Nicolas Boukhrief

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dan Laustsen

EDITOR: Sebastian Prangere

MUSIC: Jeff Danna, Akira Yamaoka

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Carol Spier

RUNNING TIME: 125 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 31, 2006

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal

VIDEO RELEASE: December 6, 2006







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