The premise of Silent Hill, the videogame, is excellent in its simplicity: Your character, a man, awakens from a car accident in a small, creepy-as-hell ghost town. There's mist everywhere, and hideous, groaning things that attack from the ground and sky. Your daughter's missing as well, and as you wander the town, clues to her whereabouts begin to emerge, along with the leavings/symbols of some sort of bizarre evil presence. Progress in the game is heralded by a dramatic environmental shift: The sky darkens, rain pours, and a hellish gloom transforms everything into a stark, industrial wasteland. Clearly, a terrible force is toying with the town's deepest levels of existential integrity.

Distrusting of the inherent cinematic value of this scenario, the film version of Silent Hill inflates it with all sorts of lame horror clichés. The protagonist is a buxom, chest-heaving woman (Radha Mitchell), and her daughter has a penchant for whispering the words "silent hill" in her sleep. Determined to unravel the mystery, mama carts girly off to the nearby town of Silent Hill, where things more or less follow the game for a while. Mitchell (AKA the worst actress ever to grace the big screen) wanders around in a daze and screams a lot as the picture wavers in and out of light and dark worlds, and there are some cool special effects and monsters. Then, the "story" must again be addressed, and things get truly nightmarish. A witch-burning, ambiguously religious, scary faction of humans surfaces, along with a lot of nonsense about wronged daughters wreaking dark vengeance on a town of sinners. Then there's a villain lady who gets a thread of possessed barbed wire stuffed up her hoo-hah.

The best videogames I've played (and Silent Hill certainly ranks) are like drugs: a unique, compulsive, ugly sort of pleasure totally different from the kind of pleasure films provide. Most videogames, when signature qualities like gameplay are removed, have feeble plotlines and cardboard characters. The kind of strong story elements that should inspire a feature film are rarely present, and the 30-plus hours of interactive experience can't be reproduced in a two-hour movie. So what gives, Hollywood execs? Why keep bludgeoning us with this kind of shit? Oh yeah, I forgot: You're a bunch of greedy assholes.