Directed by: Christophe Gans
Written by: Roger Avary
Based on a video game by Konami
Produced by: Victor Hadida
Starring: Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Alice Krige, and Jodelle Ferland

How many times have you run downstairs Christmas morning and found a huge, beautifully wrapped present sitting there under your tree? You turn it over in your hands (or if it’sreally big, you might walk around it a few times), admiring the exquisite look of the paper, the detail. Then, when you can wait no longer, you rip it open (or in the case of my Grandmother, you carefully untape it and fold the paper neatly in your lap), and inside you find…nothing. This incredible looking box is totally empty!

Okay, it’s never happened to me either. But if it had, the experience would be like watching Silent Hill.

The film opens with Rose’s (Radha Mitchell) adopted daughter Sharon (Jodell Ferland) walking across a busy highway in her sleep, then standing on the edge of a very high cliff, screaming “Silent Hill” over and over again. Rose’s husband (Sean Bean) thinks the girl needs professional help. How could he be so foolish? Obviously, the logical course of action is for Rose to kidnap her daughter and drive her across country to find this abandoned ghost town.


And find it they do. Raging coal fires are still belching ash after thirty years, shrouding the town in gray fog, turning a sunny summer day into nuclear winter. And when it gets dark…all hell breaks loose.

Director Christophe Gans, cinematographer Dan Laustsen, production designer Carol Spier, costumer Wendy Partridge, and creature creator Patrick Tatopoulos have conspired to construct a vivid, disturbing, and awe-inspiring nightmare. Burned zombies stalk chain-link mazes. Limbless blobs belch acid. Living barbed wire lifts people into the air and tears them apart. And deformed nurses practice their own brutal form of surgery in a hospital basement.


But the real horror at work in Silent Hill is the writing of Roger Avary. We have yet to reach the half-way mark of 2006, but I think it will be impossible to find a worse screenplay this year. When a butcher in a huge metal mask takes a six-foot-long knife, cuts a hole through a door, and sends bugs with screaming faces scurrying into the room, Rose says, “Everything is going to be okay.” What an optimist! And then there’s this exchange, from the very next scene: a police officer (Laurie Holden) says, “They used to say this place was haunted.” To which Rose replies, “I think they were right.” And following the discovery of a burned out room, the same officer states, “It looks like there was a fire.” Somebody get this woman on CSI!

When the film was over, a girl sitting behind me actually smacked her boyfriend on the shoulder. “You’re never picking the movie again,” she told him.

That’s not the reaction you want from a gift.

For visual effects, production design, creature and make-up effects, direction, and acting the film earns 5 out of 5 stars.

However, the screenplay can only scare up 1 out of 5 stars.