When I saw the poster for this film I thought: they have been watching Silent Hill!
Heh. If only. There are a lot of good things to say about Silent Hill. The same cannot be said for this snooze-fest. I can forgive a horror film a lot of things. The one thing I cannot forgive, is being dull.
It’s quite hard to discuss this film without giving anything away, I will try my best but there will most likely be spoilers of some sort. You have been warned.
There are basically two concurrently running stories in this boring mess of a film. And let me just warn you now – when these two stories ultimately converge you will feel TOTALLY cheated. One half is the story of a Spanish boy and his mother – the boy is terrified by the faceless monster ‘Hollow Face’ who attacks him at night. The other half concerns Mia, a British girl who is also haunted by a similarly faceless monstrosity. The other similarity between the two stories is that both children are writing about this creature – and it seems their imaginings have come to life. Throughout the film I felt faintly bewildered and, as time passed, distinctly irritated: these two stories were clearly linked, but it was impossible to discern how.
I cannot stress enough how boring and irritating this film is. For one thing, I felt throughout that I would far rather be following the Spanish half of the story than that set in England. I have to admit that I’m not exactly a fan of Clive Owen – a confession I know will ostracise me from many people – but Jesus, that man is dull. I have socks that are more inspiring than him. I also couldn’t stand his daughter Mia or their creepy relationship. The scene where Mia’s mother cowers naked in their bedroom after the girl walks in on her parents having sex is the most unintentionally disturbing moment of this film. There is something of an Electra complex under-pinning this film which is, for the most part, left unexplored – and which would probably have made for a far more interesting film had it been developed. The unhealthy aspect of this father and daughter relationship is only unveiled at the end – and then rapidly and unsatisfactorily turned into a positive affirmation of fatherly love conquering all. Pass me the sick bucket.
This film relies on slight of hand to function at all. It’s a psychological thriller masquerading as supernatural horror and that always bugs me. And instead of playing the is it/isn’t card to inject some tension into this dead-duck, the psychological element is introduced at the very end as a ‘clever twist’ – which it most certainly is not.
It also isn’t scary, or even particularly tense. I think the scene where Hollowface emerges from the closet was meant to be this film’s pièce de résistance of scares – it was a spectacular failure. It was clearly intended to be tense, unexpected and alarming – instead it felt slow, predictable and totally lack lustre. The makers of this film have somehow managed to suck out all the tension. I think they were attempting to scare through slight of hand – the audience is meant to be disturbed because the scares don’t play out in the usual way. But in this instance the scares don’t play out in the usual way because frankly – they aren’t scary.
I don’t say this very often – but I really, really hate this film. I can usually find something good to say about a film but this time I just can’t be bothered. Oh no wait – the Spanish kid was pretty good. But Guillermo Del Toro has made a gaggle of great films with Spanish kids – all of which are infinitely better than this tripe – so it isn’t earning any points for that. Plus the rest of the cast were RUBBISH. Was it an original idea? Well, it certainly hasn’t been done before – but I think the simple reason for that is that the central idea is shit: a bad concept, badly realised. It’s lazy, pretentious and dull. Avoid like the plague.