Silent Hill


Rating 2¾

Directed by Christophe Gans

Written by Roger Avery

Starring Radha Mitchell, Laurie Holden, Alice Krige, Sean Bean and Jodelle Ferland

I rented this one some months ago, hated it on first viewing and then began to change my initial reaction to it when I watched it again for a second time the following night.

It has been fizzing away in the back of my mind ever since. Images from the film have stayed with me and clearly there was something about it that made an impression. I was finally able to purchase a copy recently and I have now watched it for a third time.

I know the film, which was written by Roger Avary, something that might have put me off if I’d known in advance (such are my general feelings of aversion to Quentin Tarentino), is based on a series of computer games, but since I have absolutely no interest in computer games and know nothing about them it makes no difference to me. What I can say is that this is, as far as I know, the first film based on a computer game I have actually managed to sit through from beginning to end. As examples, I’ve never watched the ‘Tomb Raider’ films and I gave up on ‘Resident Evil’ after about ten minutes.

I’ll quickly deal with the “cons” first. The plot is somewhat silly, but what horror film isn’t? Visually some of the special effects are quite derivative, or at least very reminiscent of other films, but that is the nature of these things, as each new advance is made in the technologies available. I would guess the effects utilised here were state-of-the-art at the time.

Sean Bean is amongst the cast. I don’t like Sean Bean. I have no particular reason for this; it’s just an irrational thing. In this specific instance, Bean, with his bluff Yorkshire persona, playing an American doesn’t work as well for me as probably an American actor would have done playing the role. Having said that, the lead actress, Radha Mitchell, is Australian (she got her first major acting break in the daily TV soap ‘Neighbours’) and I don’t have any problem with her playing an American.

What I like about the film is the genuine nightmare quality. It’s surreal and queasy and oddly unsettling, but I don’t find it stomach-churning. Some of the visual imagery is really impressive, especially in the first half of the film. It has a melancholy feel that I like, something it has in common with films like ‘The Fog’ and ‘The Return’. The film it probably most reminds me of is John Carpenter’s ‘In The Mouth Of Madness’. If you happen to like women in uniform kicking ass (not really my thing, to be honest) – well, that would be a bonus.

This is not a classic film and there is nothing in particular to recommend it for, but I have now watched it three times, so it must have something that appeals to me.


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