The best scary movies, according to no less a sage than Joe Bob Briggs, are the ones where anyone can die at any time. Not to contradict The Man, but I'd argue that an even more rarified category exists, the sort of dreamy, fairytale horror (perhaps best typified by Dario Argento's Suspiria) where, indeed, anything can happen at any time. Until a late appeal to logic interrupts the fun, the new goth-friendly splatter flick Silent Hill delivers a freshly rancid freakout of the sort that's intelligible only to some dank level of your subconscious.

Based on a video game series famous for eschewing Resident Evil's zombie money shots in favor of Lovecraftian atmospherics, Roger (Pulp Fiction) Avery's script cherry-picks liberally from the four installments to date. (Full wimp disclosure: This reviewer never finished the first game, having packed it in when the dead babies came out carrying butcher knives. I mean, Jesus.) The scenario here finds an increasingly freaked woman (Pitch Black's Radha Mitchell, giving Ripley a run for her mothering money) searching for her daughter in the titular mining town, a mostly deserted place that occasionally slips into a dimension chock full of acid-puking hulks, mobs of charcoal-briquette children, and, most spectacularly, an 8-foot-tall dude with a pyramid for a head and a sword that rivals that of Johnny Wadd Holmes. Director Christophe Gans, previously responsible for the loopy Brotherhood of the Wolf, goes for broke during these nightmare sequences, delivering a succession of genuinely disturbing setpieces. If you have a thing about giant insects and/or barbed wire, you may want to call it an early night.

There are some significant problems, to be sure: Avery's script apes the wooden dialogue of the games a tad too successfully, a real-world subplot involving Mitchell's husband (Sean Bean) goes nowhere, and the whole enterprise is nudged close to self-parody by the third-act addition of a group of fire-happy witch hunters. But this should in no way diminish the real accomplishment of that first frigged-up, terrifyingly nonsensical hour. When it's flying, Gans's film, in addition to being the best video game adaptation to date, generates a wealth of shivery imagery that I won't be able to soon forget. But, Lord, I think I may want to.