Silent Hill? Nonsenseville, more like. Adapted from the sensationally spooky video game by Roger Avary and directed by Christophe "Brotherhood Of The Wolf" Gans, Silent Hill is a spectacular squandering of talent. Radha Mitchell, playing perhaps the dumbest heroine of all time, wanders the ash-strewn streets of a West Virginia ghost town searching for her lost daughter, assailed from all sides by monsters from the pits of hell. Her verdict? "There's something weird going on." Well get you, Captain Clever.
Despite its multi-layered idiocies and bum-freezing length, Silent Hill is almost worth the trouble for the outstanding production design, which recalls the grungy mood of Se7en. The monsters, most lifted directly from the games, are highly imaginative: Radha has to fight off hordes of teeny burny babies, busty zombie nurses and some crazy guy wearing a barbecue as a hat. The first half of the film is actually improved by making no sense at all; you suspect that Gans is going for a full-blown Dario Argento-style surreal nightmare.
"GANS ISN'T AWARE HE'S MAKING FLUFF"
Unfortunately, the more Avary's plot comes into focus, the less scary it gets. There's a laughably obtuse exposition sequence that rivals The Matrix Reloaded for sheer chattiness, and an uncomfortable emphasis on child abuse that feels out of place in such a fluffy film. The problem is that Gans isn't aware that he's making fluff - he thinks this stuff is serious. It is, however, a well-known axiom that busty zombie nurses and serious filmmaking are mutually exclusive. Everyone involved here, especially Mitchell and Sean Bean as her grumbling hubby, should have known better.