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By Shane M. Dallmann

So, we start in a spooky amusement park, and I ask myself “Are we going to get the creepy carousel or the hall of mirrors?” We get the carousel. It’s all a dream, of course, but we know where we’re eventually headed.

Sharon (Adelaide Clemens), the little girl from the first film, is now about to turn eighteen, and she’s on the run with her father (Sean Bean), assuming a series of cover identities as Dad tries to protect her from “the horrible truth.” For her own protection, she refuses to make friends at her new school, but she acquires the companionship of a leather-jacketed misfit named Vince (Kit Harington) all the same. And now the visions are starting, as are the messages telling her to go to Silent Hill. Dad warns her never to do that. But we all know how well THAT’S going to work. Long story short, she goes.

Characters appear at random (including cameo appearances by the cast of the first film) and blow through all sorts of complicated backstory stuff (it might be more coherent if you’re familiar with the video game, which I’m not). And it all boils down to a truly risible Cenobite grudge match… oh, I’m sorry–did I confuse this with a HELLRAISER film? Well, the people who made THIS did, too!

So I can’t in all good conscience elevate this to the top tier. But it’s a damn shame, because this sequel (written and directed by Michael J. Bassett of SOLOMON KANE) is actually much better (not to mention much faster-paced: there’s no time-consuming subplot business here, even though a couple of cops pop up in the early going, presumably to set up the highly-unlikely third installment) than the original SILENT HILL. It has some of the scariest and most gruesome imagery in recent memory and some genuinely terrific creature effects (the mannequin monster alone more than sealed the deal for me); Malcolm McDowell is great fun while he lasts as an asylum patient (imagine that), and the film was MADE for flawless 3-D.

So, yes. See it on the big screen while you still can. Enough said.