I happily admit I? not a videogamer. I already spend far too many hours staring at screens to be able to justify wasting even more of my time playing video games, no matter how thrilling they may be. So the relative game-to-film merits of the continuous string of movies based on shoot-?m-ups I?e never heard of continues unabated and I watch them purely on the basis of whether they?e good films ?the TOMB RAIDER movies ?bad films ?who remembers SUPER MARIO BROTHERS? ?or just plain indifferent films. It? into this third category that SILENT HILL squarely falls.

Directed by BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF? Christopher Gans, SILENT HILL seems to draw on quite a lot of influences, whether it? the recent slew of Japanese horrors like THE GRUDGE and THE RING, less subtle efforts like the RESIDENT EVIL series with a little bit of classier stuff like THE WICKER MAN thrown in for good measure. The end result is a bit of a pot pourri of styles, a film which is always watchable but never as engrossing as it really ought to be.

Sharon Gillespie is the adopted daughter of Rose Da Silva (Mitchell) and she? suffering from nightmares which end up with her shouting out the name ?ilent Hill? For some bizarre reason Rose decides that actually finding the place and confronting whatever it is that fascinates her daughter is a good idea but when she? loses Sharon after a car crash and finds herself wandering around the desolate town of Silent Hill, Rose becomes embroiled in a warped, weird, twisted nightmare of deformed monstrosities, metal-headed flesh-rending monsters and an insane religious cult.

SILENT HILL isn? exactly a barrel of laughs. It? dark and grim and once Rose is lost in the town itself, it becomes bleak and unsettling. Unfortunately it also becomes rather random and haphazard, all attempts at a narrative structure abandoned in favour of a few new shocks and thrills and a handful of new grotesque monstrosities. There? no denying the make-up and FX work is exemplary and there are some genuinely hair-raising creatures on display here, but the story just becomes muddled and obscure and it? hard to care much about the characters when the story can? be bothered to explain where they are and what? happening to them. There? much for gorehounds to admire though; one poor soul is skinned alive and the skinless carcass thrown against a door, others are ripped apart by tendrils which rise up out of the ground and another is burnt alive. Nice.

While SILENT HILL? story is a bit all over the place, the film? cinematography and production design are outstanding. There are some impressive aerial shots in the first reel and the production design is superb, the devastated town of Silent Hill wonderfully realised and the Pyramid Head character and his army of insects are likely to give nightmares to those of a nervous disposition. Performances are decent enough ?young Jodelle Ferland is suitably creepy as Sharon and her twin Alessa and Sean Bean seems to be phoning his performance from a completely different film, so surplus to requirements is his character, divorced entirely from the main action.

So I?e no idea whether SILENT HILL is true to its origins or not. As a film though it? neither one thing nor another. It looks and sounds good but, as someone nearly once said about something else, it? full of sound and fury and really doesn? signify anything of any real importance.

THE DISC: A good, solid transfer handles the film? numerous dark sequences well with little noticeable grain and the soundscape is well rendered on 5.1. Extras are few but there? a worthwhile sixty-minute ?aking of?but, oddly, no commentaries.

Silent Hill is released on DVD in the UK on September 4th 2006.


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