Silent Hill

Snakes on a Plane may be a mediocre, lowbrow fright film, but Silent Hill is something much worse — a laughably pretentious one. Radha Mitchell, an actress who deserves better parts than this, plays Rose, who finds herself stranded in the abandoned town of Silent Hill, West Virginia, searching for her lost daughter.

silent_198.jpgFor the first 45 minutes or so, heady atmosphere works in the film’s favor, culminating in an impressively whacked-out visual-effects sequence that demonstrates how the town exists in two different dimensions. Soon, however, the tedium sets in. With a mind-bogglingly stupid screenplay by erstwhile Tarantino collaborator Roger Avary and a running time that cracks the two-hour mark, Silent Hill is something of an endurance test.

Director Christophe Gans, best-known for the martial-arts creature feature Brotherhood of the Wolf, can’t get these characters to behave in ways that make sense, and the overly complicated exposition derails it all in the third act. There is a gory, impressively horrific climax, but it comes too late.

The hero here is the great production designer Carol Spier, who takes inspiration from the videogame source material to provide an impressively complex, bleakly gorgeous environment for all this horror hokum. For diehards only.

Originally published in the White Plains Times, August 24, 2006.

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