Opening 11 May 2006
Ten-year-old Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) falls into trances and mumbles the words “Silent Hill.” This is a town in West Virginia and she and her foster mother Rose (Radha Mitchell) set off in the car to find it. Along the way Sharon disappears and Rose arrives in an uninhabited ghost town which burned 30 years ago, and seems to burn still as white ashes fall like snow to fill up the streets. For the remainder of the film Rose searches for her daughter. She finds police woman Cybil, as well as a beautiful hag named Dahlia (Deborah Kara Unger) (who looks so much like Grisabella in CATS, that I expected her to belt out “Memory”) and a fire-and-brimstone-preacher-type named Cristabella. After struggling with creatures such as Red Pyramid, the Grey Children, the Armless Ones, the Janitor, the Cockroaches, and the Dark Nurses, Rose finds Sharon and learns the secrets of Silent Hill.
The film is made from a successful series of video games by the same name from Akira Yamaoka of the Konami company. French director Christophe Gans changed the video game’s main protagonist from a man to a woman (Rose); otherwise, he tried to convey the same atmosphere of four dimensions: Silent Hill of the 70s, SH of today, SH in the fog, and SH in darkness. I was never aware of these four spheres, which is probably why I was surprised at the ending and surprised that playing video games might come in handy for film reviewing. It’s worth sitting through the film’s bunch of nonsense, just for the grand finale staged in a church, when the action picks up and the evil-doer gets her just punishment. (Becky Tan)