I'm sure that if you try hard, you could find a twelve-year-old who could explain this movie and its source material a hell of a lot better than me. He would probably tell you, while casually wiping the ejaculate off his PS2 controller, that "Silent Hill" was a terrifying video game and that the movie accurately depicts the feeling of the video game. He'd use words like "undead" and "ghosts" and maybe could recount the plot of the film - or maybe he would just say the plot isn't as important as the atmosphere and that if only you had a Playstation 2, you could be as cool as him. Or maybe his eyes would just glaze over as the impact of actually talking to another human being hit him.
Anyway, there actually is a certain promise to "Silent Hill" early on. Something is wrong with little Sharon (Jodelle Ferland). She sleepwalks to the edges of cliffs only to have her parents pull her away at the last minute. Sharon mumbles something about Silent Hill and Rose Da Silva (Radha Mitchell) and hubby Christopher (Sean Bean) discover that it's a place - a ghost town. Thus, Rose decides to take Sharon there thinking that somehow that will help young Sharon because maybe psychiatry and Prozac have failed or who the hell knows.
On her way, Rose gets pulled over by a cop, Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden), who looks like she's trying out for the part of the cyborg in "Terminator 4". Ultimately, there's really no point for Holden's character, other than chasing Rose to Silent Hill so that somebody has a gun and can shoot some of the bad things that pop up. The second Rose arrives in Silent Hill, Sharon runs away and Rose spends the rest of the film running around trying to find her.
There's really no story, per se, up to this point. One imagines a meeting among the filmmakers where somebody objected to the lack of story and volunteered one. That conversation, as near as I can tell, went something like this: "and Silent Hill will be this ghost town occupied by these people who survived an accident and have become kind of a cult and are lead by this woman (Alice Krige) and when Rose finds them the movie will become sort of like "The Sixth Sense" because we'll just end it in this multi-dimensional spasm."
I can tell you, after two or so hours of this, I wanted to get out of the theater a whole lot worse than Rose wanted to get out of Silent Hill.
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