Nothing scares people as much as the unknown. That's why it's so easy to make horror films -- The less you explain, the more successful your scares. Besides, the existence of horror fandom bases its survival on a solid foundation of free flowing forgiveness. They're cheap dates and easy lays. Mix a lot of unknown with great cinematography and the appearance of narrative themes, and you just might end up with a classic. Especially if it's based on a video game.
Silent Hill opens with panicked Mother in her underwear running after missing Daughter in the middle of a beautifully well-lit night. Slightly less panicked and much less underweared, Husband stumbles after. Mother has Maternal instincts and can therefore track Daughter's scent even through woods and over highways. Husband does not share this bond with Daughter. He takes wrong turns and lacks Mother's adrenaline-supplied super speed and healing ability (she gets hit by a car and doesn't notice).
Eventually Mother follows Daughter's life scent to a cliff so high that it doesn't even become a waterfall until halfway down. The cliff has no railings or danger signs or anything, so one might be forgiven for assuming this film takes place sometime before America was colonized. Just as Mother is about to jump into the abyss, she looks over and sees Daughter on a ledge a few ledges away (there are a multitude of ledges). Daughter seems to be in a trance, perhaps hypnotized by all the ledges. She looks at the expanse beneath her and sees a maze of pipes and an identical girl looking back up at her. Then she screams "Silent Hill" and passes out. Mother catches her just in time. Father shows up too late to be of any worth. There's a lit cross out in the distance. The cross stands for Jesus. Jesus is fucking evil as shit.
A dreamlike amount of time passes between this opening and the next scene. Also, nothing happens in the next scene.
Another dreamlike amount of time passes, and it seems like Mother and Daughter are on a road trip to Silent Hill since Daughter named the town in terror during her trance, and Mother isn't intelligent. Husband was not invited because he's a dick, always asking nagging questions about logistics and realities. Mother-Daughter bonds wipe their asses with logistics and realities.
Back home, Husband realizes he's been cuckolded by Mother-Daughter bond. So he cancels Mother's credit card. "Wipe your ass with that," he smirks.
Mother cannot buy microwave pizza and Cheetos because of Husband's obstruction. So she steals them. Female Cop (Lauren Holly) stops her for theft. Mother flips her off and peels off toward Silent Hill. Female Cop follows, kind of developing a Mother-Daughter-Lesbian Aunt bond on the way.
Unfortunately, Mother sees another Daughter in the road and wrecks her car trying to avoid her. A few miles back, Female Cop also sees a Daughter in the middle of the road. She swerves out of the way, but because of her awesome cop driving skills, it doesn't make her wreck. But then she turns a corner and finds her entire horizon filled with Daughters, and the only safe place for her to drive is straight into a tree.
A dreamlike amount of time passes. Mother wakes up in Silent Hill, an abandoned town which rains ash. Daughter is not in the car. Mother can't smell her life scent either. She assumes Daughter must be sleepwalking toward another cliff, so she goes looking for one in an abandoned factory. As she travels, an air raid horn echoes across the town. (It is not a silent horn. Also the town is not on a hill.) Instead of a cliff or her daughter, she finds slimy play-dough midgets. They are all Daughters, too, but Mother only sees them as monstrosities because they lack features and contort in abject, threatening ways. As they approach her for a hug, she runs away in terror. Just as they are finally about to achieve the emotional physical connection they so sorely desire of Mother, she passes out and the Daughters disintegrate into upward floating ash.
A dreamlike amount of time passes. Mother returns to her car and finds Female Cop waiting for her. Female Cop handcuffs Mother. Then she sees a weird fleshy play-dough Daughter approaching her for a hug. Female Cop is repulsed, but wants to see what will happen if she hugs the creature because a latent Mother-Daughter bond is beginning to emanate from her for every living thing around. The Creature Daughter feels it too, and gets so excited that her stomach rejects breakfast and she pukes all over Female Cop, nearly killing her with fleshy play-dough stomach acid. This sort of sours their emerging bond, and Female Cop shoots the creature 10-12 times in the lump where a head should be.
After un-cuffing Mother, she and Female Cop look for a way out of Silent Hill. A dreamlike amount of time passes before they discover all roads back to civilization have been destroyed. So they turn around and walk back to where they started for a dreamlike amount of time.
While all this happens, Husband attempts to find Silent Hill as well. It's easier for him because he knows how to use Google. He arrives later that night, but his version of Silent Hill is relatively normal. A cop tells him everyone in the town died in a fire 30 years ago, and there's really nothing left to see. Husband doesn't get the ash or the monsters or the broken road because only really huge idiots or people deluded with Mother-Daughter bond can visit that version of Silent Hill. So Husband goes home. On the way his car gets hit by a meteor (he's played by Sean Bean).
Back to the ladies, a dreamlike amount of time passes since the last dreamlike amount of time. While walking around they hear the air raid horn again and witness all the town's paint peel off and reveal architecture based around chains and pipes and grates. A lot of little cockroaches show up too and with them a bodybuilder with a triangle for a head and a hard, massive sword: Husband Creature. It tries to stab them. The closer his blade comes to penetrating, the more they find themselves secretly hoping it does. But then, just as they're ready to give up their Mother-Daughter-Lesbian Aunt priorities, all the evil stuff floats away and Silent Hill gets its paint back.
So to sum up: Silent Hill is an alternate reality only stupid people can travel to. Everything is weird and dangerous. But then it occasionally gets dark and weirder and more dangerouser. And then it goes back to normal, which is still pretty damn weird by normal standards.
Mother and Female Cop wander around for a dreamlike amount of time. Then they suddenly find a bunch of other people who lead them to a church. But then the siren goes off and everything gets black again. Triangle Head Husband Creature shows up. Instead of trying to seduce Mother and Female Cop with his sword, he shows them his raw masculinity by picking up the nearest female Silent Hill inhabitant, ripping her clothes off to reveal her feminine beauty, then ripping her skin off to reveal her feminine desire. This is, like, some scary ass shit.
Inside the safe church, the whole movie turns into a bunch of boring Christian witch-burning malarkey. As Mother tries not to fall asleep during the exposition, her Mother-Daughter bond starts kicking in with doubled force. Daughter is near. Mother strikes a deal with the head witch burner: she'll let them burn Female Cop as a heretic if they'll let her talk with Silent Hill's main monster (her Mother-Daughter sense tells her Daughter is with this monster). Female Cop feels solidarity with her cause and totally doesn't mind dying the fiery death hundreds of scapegoated Mothers and Daughters throughout history also suffered. Luckily for her, immolation in Silent Hill only takes twenty seconds and looks completely painless.
Mother visits the main monster, who turns out to be a copy of Daughter. Here she learns (via a quick, narrated filmstrip, indicating monsters beat Christians at presentation every day of the week except Sunday when they're too busy cooking hamburgers and getting laid to give a shit) that the crazy Christians burned up a little girl who later divided into a good and bad half. Daughter is the good half. Main Monster is the bad half. The middle half is tied to a hospital bed with barbed wire.
Main Monster Daughter wants Mother to sneak her into the church so she can kill the shit out of everyone. She created Silent Hill to punish them, but after 30 years she's sick of it and just wants to fuck them up. Mother has Mother-Daughter bond with every iteration of Daughter so she agrees.
To do this, Mother need only return to the church and badmouth the head Christian until she stabs her in the chest out of anger. Any blood that flows from her Mother heart will bring forth Monster Daughter who will then combine with Good Daughter, reawakening Burned Daughter who will then squeeze everyone to death with rivers of barbed wire. It works.
With all that taken care of, Mother and Daughter can finally leave the nightmare of Silent Hill behind them. Back home they lie down, never wondering where Husband went off to. It doesn't matter anyway. They're safe and sound. They drift into sleep for a dreamlike amount of time. When they wake up, they realize the whole thing was a bad nightmare.
Or was it? No, it wasn't.