What we have here is a masterpiece of surrealistic survival horror, or another attempt at intelligent horror that falls under the weight of its own pretensions. A third option could put it in between the two extremes; it is up to you to decide. I've made my decision, although I am not sure I will be able to adequately defend my position. Defend - interesting choice of words, and one I chose on purpose.
Occasionally, a film comes around that connects with you on a level that sucks you in and traps you with a malicious intent. That intent is to make you like it beyond all reason. You may realize you are watching something that is somewhat less than good, but you are helpless in your enjoyment of said work. A recent example of a film's effect on me is Ultraviolet. Now, more to the point, another film has affected me in a similar, but far less pronounced manner.
Silent Hill is a film that eschews logic in favor of atmosphere, a film that sets out to put you into a nightmare. When you're trapped in a nightmare, logic has no place. I am aware that this movie was inspired by/based on a videogame series, but I claim ignorance of the source. As an adaptation, I am ill-prepared to comment, but that doesn't stop me from having some thoughts!
The film centers on Rose and her adopted daughter, Sharon. We learn that Sharon is sick with some unknown illness. She has a tendency to sleepwalk and talk about Silent Hill. It seems the key to her illness lies within the confines of the town, long since abandoned after a fire burned through it. Rose sneaks off with Sharon, leaving behind a rather upset husband, Chris.
The nightmare begins when Rose, with daughter in tow, turns off the main road and enters Silent Hill. The town is realized in all the shades of grey you can imagine; there is a layer of ash constantly falling, like a soft snow on the town. After a car crash, Sharon disappears. Rose sets out with a single-minded determination to find her. Along the way, she is joined by a cop who does not quite understand the gravity of the situation. I do not wish to continue with too much more description. Part of the joy I derived was watching as everything unfolded before me.
The town is incredible, a completely insulated nightmare. In this world, anything can and does happen with no explanation required. Sure, there is a plot at work here, and the exposition is at times clunky and not exactly clear, but it is always interesting. More interesting is the world of Silent Hill.