review for Silent Hill on AllMovie

Silent Hill (2006)
by Jason Buchanan review

Religious fanaticism ignites the darkest dreams of tortured innocence, yet the white hot embers of surrealist horror are quickly doused by careless plotting, poor characterization, and downright embarrassing dialogue in director Christophe Gans and screenwriter Roger Avery's muddled adaptation of the popular survival horror video game of the same name. Her troubled adoptive daughter having vanished into thin air following a minor car accident, desperate mother Rose Da Silva (Radha Mitchell) goes down the rabbit hole for a decidedly dark journey into a nightmarish wonderland that might have left young Alice suffocating with terror had it not been handled with such cinematic ineptitude. Though Silent Hill is ostensibly a dread-soaked journey into a series of nightmarish landscapes that grow increasingly outlandish until the invading darkness descends onto the one sanctuary in the cursed town, the swelling terror that should have inflated the film to epic proportions is effectively deflated by a notable lack of skilled storytelling. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent in the fatally flawed film than in the fact that there is no attempt made to even explain the curse that plagues Silent Hill until well near the two-hour mark -- by that point trying the patience of even the most forgiving viewer. The true tragedy of Silent Hill for horror fans, though, is that, broken down frame by frame, some of the infernal imagery is so striking that it would have made even Hieronymus Bosch proud. In order to be effective in cinematic terms, though, those images need to be backed up by a potent sense of urgency, dread, or at the very least, a competent sense of dream logic, and those are three elements that the frightfully dull Silent Hill is sorely and sadly lacking.