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By CHRIS VOGNAR
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS
"Silent Hill" is the latest horror movie to use occult mumbo jumbo as an avenue to gory terror. Too long by about a half hour, very much in love with its own excessive style, it still manages to be kinda creepy, at least when it stops taking its metaphysics too seriously.
What you have here is your basic ghost town/witch hunting/lost child/mine fire story.
Silent Hill is where Rose (Radha Mitchell) has the misfortune of losing her young daughter, who has been crying out the town's name during her frenzied sleepwalking episodes.
Wondering what the heck a silent hill is, Rose does the modern thing. She Googles the name, gets directions, puts the kid in her Jeep, and drives on over, much to the objection of her hubby (Sean Bean, playing the definition of an unnecessary character).
You could say that "Silent Hill" has trouble with narrative logic, but this would imply that it has a narrative.
The movie is based on a horror video-game series, which is probably plotted with more skill than the big-screen adaptation. Indeed, much of the film's action unfolds like a game, with Rose passing through one level and moving on to the next, even more treacherous challenge.
This is one of those movies with a five-minute chunk of plot exposition near the end that lays out the basics of what's been going on for the previous 90 minutes.
You wouldn't think "Silent Hill" was written by a former Oscar winner, but sure enough, the screenplay springs from the pen of Roger Avary, Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" co-scribe. He won't win any awards for this one, but he probably won't have to hide his head in shame. As a horror movie hitting theaters during a notoriously slow spot on the release calendar, "Silent Hill" just might do blaring box office.