Mama mia! What a creepy predicament.
Newsday (Melville, NY); 4/24/2006
Byline: Jan Stuart
Apr. 24--(2 STARS) SILENT HILL (R). Some good, spooky visual effects enhance a truckload of malarkey as a terrified mother chases down her little girl in a ghost town. A good start, then it fizzles. With Radha Mitchell. 2:07 (strong horror violence and gore, disturbing images, some language). At area theaters. Far be it for me to dispense advice to mothers of little girls with vexing mental health issues. Still, if my kid were sleepwalking her way toward mile-high gorges and drawing violent pictures while babbling about some mysterious ghost town called Silent Hill, then throwing her into a Jeep and driving her there in the dead of night would be about 289th on my list of corrective options. This is where Rose, the decision-challenged mom played by Radha Mitchell in "Silent Hill," loses me. It is also only about five minutes into the movie, making it harder to work up much sympathy when a motorcycle cop pulls her over a few minutes later, and Rose responds by flooring the pedal and speeding off. Feeling smugly superior is one of the myriad pleasures offered by this cockamamy horror tale, which works up a decent amount of solid, creep-show atmosphere in its first act before making some absurd decisions of its own in its second. Based on a video-game series of the same name, "Silent Hill" is essentially an obstacle course of fun-house frights hurdled by Rose as she seeks out her daughter, Sharon (Jodelle Ferland), who has disappeared into the abandoned West Virginia town Rose so ill-advisedly brought her to. Sharon's husband, Christopher (a palpably stiff Sean Bean), is on the trail but essentially useless, in the way that some movie husbands can be. Sharon is not entirely alone on her hunt, however. She is variously hindered and abetted by a frizzy-headed madwoman (Deborah Kara Unger), who has also lost her daughter, and the aforementioned cop, a curvaceous vision in black leather named Cybil (Laurie Holden).
The resplendent blonde heads of Rose and Cybil beam like beacons in the apocalyptic gray of Silent Hill, a once-thriving coalmining town where ashes and toxic gases continue to swirl 30 years after a deadly fire wiped out much of the populace. The women fend off an unrelenting barrage of zombie-like predators and giant cockroaches that come and go, just as unpredictably as they do in New York City. The visual effects are often quite marvelous (love the gaping corpse in the toilet stall choked in barbed wire), which is why it's unfortunate that director Christophe Gans and writer Roger Avary feel compelled to tie them together with something so banal as a rationale. "Silent Hill," which purports to be a testament to the ferocity and abiding strength of maternal love, wears its lusting male heart on its sleeve. In addition to the prostitute-chic of Cybil's cop regalia and the domination fantasy of Rose in handcuffs, it also features a phalanx of low-cleavage zombie nurses who slither and slink like Bob Fosse chorines.
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