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  Silent Hill Ghost Town
Year: 2006
Director: Christophe Gans
Stars: Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Deborah Kara Unger, Kim Coates, Tanya Allen, Alice Krige, Jodelle Ferland, Colleen Williams, Ron Gabriel, Eve Crawford
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Rose (Radha Mitchell) is worried about her adopted daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) since she has started sleepwalking, why, last night the little girl wandered out of the house and wound up next to a cliff, nearly toppling over if it hadn't been for Rose's quick thinking which saved her life. In her trance, Sharon cries out the name Silent Hill, and Rose manages to track down the phrase to an abandoned town somewhere in West Virginia. Making up her mind, she takes the girl on a drive there, leaving her husband Christopher (Sean Bean) wondering where on earth they have got to...

Alarm bells should be ringing when you hear that Silent Hill was based on a computer game, which is rarely a good sign, and so it is with this as it takes what might have been an amusing experience to play and transforms it into a ponderously pretentious chiller full of the kind of graphics that the original would probably have taken to its machine heart. It was adapted by Roger Avary, the Pulp Fiction chap, and once again serves to illustrate the troubles with taking one electronic medium and fashioning a proper story out of it for another.

And along the way taking it all far too seriously, leaving the viewer with a joyless couple of hours in the name of entertainment. Once Rose and Sharon near the ghost town, they are pulled over by a motorcycle cop (Laurie Holden) who has been alerted to the girl's distressed state at a rest stop farther back along the road. When the cop walks up to the driver's window, Rose zooms off, and as she crosses the bridge she swerves to avoid a figure in the middle of the road and crashes. Now she is trapped in the world of the game, waking up in a heavy mist.

What this entails is a lot of wandering around, and as Sharon has disappeared Rose has to call her name about fifty billion times from that point till the end of the film, which can grate on the nerves somewhat. The empty streets and buildings are nicely realised, but there follows nearly an hour of Mitchell searching, getting handcuffed by the cop and un-handcuffed by the cop when they're attacked by some CGI bugs. Yes, the CGI, so rarely convincing in horror movies of this decade and better suited to science fiction if anything, which is the case here.

After all that, Avary decided he had better put a plot into effect and so we get a tale of religious fanaticism which has undone the townsfolk of Silent Hill, but this is presented with an equal and opposite force, so that in the film's endeavours to make a statement about fundamentalism being a bad thing, it ends up being just as fundamentalist for the other side: no happy medium here. When Alice Krige shows up making pronouncements about burning witches it's time to sigh and wish you were watching something with a better handle on its subject matter, like Witchfinder General for example. For the finale, the story opts for the obscure, with characters turned into ghosts in the real world or whatever, but by then you'll probably be glad it's over. And what a long time it seems to get there. Music by Jeff Danna.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Christophe Gans  (1960 - )

French director with a talent for stylish martial arts/fantasy film-making. As a journalist in the 1980s Gans founded the influential cult movie magazine Starfix, and made his debut in 1994 by contributing to Necromonicon, Brian Yuzna's horror anthology film. Crying Freeman was an above-average live action version of the popular manga, while the genre-straddling Brotherhood of the Wolf was one of 2001's biggest international hits. Game adaptation Silent Hill was a disappointment, but his retelling of La Belle et la Bete satisfied his fans.

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