Silent Hill

Starring: Sean Bean, Radha Mitchell and Alice Krige
Pathé Distribution Ltd
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 04 September 2006

Rose and Christopher are the foster parents of little Sharon. But Sharon is sick, suffering from constant bouts of somnambulism during which she puts her own life at risk. While Christopher wants to submit Sharon to hospital, Rose researches Silent Hill on the Internet - the place Sharon yearns for during her sleepwalks. Silent Hill is a ghost town, abandoned and closed-off from the main roads for thirty years. Fires are said to still rage beneath the ground and ash falls like snow. After a minor accident on the outskirts of town, Sharon goes missing. Rose and a curious young motorcycle cop called Cybil set out to find her. When Christopher discovers where his wife and daughter have gone he follows in his own car, but is turned away by the local police who know far more than they are letting on. Silent Hill harbours a deadly secret. The past and the present are linked, and Rose must face the supernatural darkness and all its agents of evil if she is to rescue her daughter. But the darkness has more than a passing interest in the girl...

This is the second film review in succession which has featured Sean Bean in the cast. In fact, Silent Hill has certain similarities to The Dark. Aside from Bean, both have a little girl who goes missing, a supernatural town or village, a link to the past, and a mother who turns into Ripley from the Alien films to get back her daughter. Nevertheless, these are two completely different films in terms of look and feel.

The Dark undoubtedly has stronger characters and so more sympathy, but Silent Hill wins over with plot progression, intricate sets, and is certainly a showcase for the excellent special effects which enhance the story rather than overshadowing it. As everyone knows, there's a fine line between inspired and insipid, and Silent Hill pokes a toe across it on a couple of occasions.

Although on the whole solid, the dialogue periodically staggers into cringeworthy territory, but the pacing of the film is so fast that you can easily choose to ignore it.

I think The Dark produced more jolts, but this film has much more horror eye candy. There's some nicely-choreographed set-pieces; the best being the supremely creepy muscular humanoid with the metallic headpiece and accompanying cockroaches, and the final scene with Alessa and the barbed wire, when the darkness gets into the church.

Adaptations of computer games have a reputation of falling notoriously short of expectations. Being aware of its existence but never having tried my hand at the game, I have no idea how this shapes-up in comparison. I do know that the central character has been changed to female for the film. It's interesting to note that all the main characters in the supernatural setting of Silent Hill are female, whereas those based in the reality of the world outside are male.

Aside from the aforementioned Sean Bean, some people might recognise Alice Krige (who was the Borg Queen) as Christabella. The whole cast brings a solid performance, but deserving a special mention is Jodelle Ferland who plays Sharon/Alessa. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of her in the years to come.

Special Features includes a very entertaining 47 minute Making Of Documentary, a Photo Gallery, Trailer and TV Spots.

Ty Power

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