This Hill is alive but not with the sounds of critics
Friday, April 21, 2006
Another Friday, another film not screened in time for critics to review it. There have been a record number so far this year, most of them horrors (Stay Alive), comedies (Benchwarmers) and horrible comedies (Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Date Movie). This week is horror's turn, with a spooky little picture called Silent Hill.
Silent Hill is a small town in Toluca County, W. Va., judging from the trailer (and that's all I had to go on at press time). Toluca County, W. Va., sounds like it should be immortalized in a John Denver song about country roads, but the municipality of Silent Hill suffers instead from the immortality of the damned. It seems that 30 years ago a fire killed hundreds of townsfolk, and the underground coal seams are still burning today.
Silent Hill doesn't have much to offer the casual tourist, as Radha Mitchell discovers when she arrives looking for her lost daughter. Ghostly figures mosey through the town, disappearing around corners just when you most want to stop and have a look at them. Ash falls from the sky. Locals offer handy, upfront advice like: "To find your daughter you must face the darkness of hell." Also, no Starbucks.
It's a misnamed place too. Mitchell first senses she's approaching the city's sinister limits when her radio starts spluttering and hissing, which is hardly silent. The ominous telltale heartbeat common to 87% of all horror trailers follows her through the mean streets. And despite being told "this place is completely cut off," she's able to make cellphone calls to her husband, played by Sean Bean. (Maybe she's got the new Hades minutes a month plan.)
The trailer also informs us that "What was once an ordinary town has been transformed by evil," full of "mysteries without answers, secrets without explanation and fear without end." Given the lack of advance screenings, I'd have to agree with those first two points. And the 125-minute running time does sound like a relatively long stretch of fear. But endless? Surely a small (haunted) town like Silent Hill must roll up the sidewalks at some point.
© National Post 2006