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"You have brought sin amongst us"
Silent Hill (DVD)
Member Name: AverageJoseph
Silent Hill (DVD)
Advantages: Monster Scenes, Special Effects, Soundtrack
Disadvantages: Dialogue, Few Scares, Ending
The very concept of creating a film based on a video game series is a contrasted idea. While serious movie buffs and people uninterested in video games will wave it away as a silly or childish idea (though this prejudice is slowly dying out) the fans of the franchise will see it as the pinnacle of the game developers career, garnering so much success as to fund the way for the big screen. Of course, passionate gamers are not easily satisfied, namely because they don't appreciate it when unknown suits chop and change the characters and story-lines that they had spent hours, days, weeks gaming with. The majority tend to know when they're games are being milked to within every last credible drop. So the consequences can be catastrophic when companies alienate their key audience who may end up boycotting any other release. The Silent Hill video games had spanned 7 years with 4 releases when this feature film was released and whilst it doesn't use any of the stories (its not an adaption) it does keep various elements that are encountered in the games. For those who don't know, the Silent Hill games are Survival Horror games, where the player takes control of the main protagonist, often searching a desolate town for loved ones or answers. However what makes the games gain the horror label are its enemies, psychologically distorted images of humans normally, accompanied by chilling soundtracks and gruesome cutscenes.
"To find your daughter, you must face the darkness of Hell." (Plot)
The stories in the video games may be similar and rather tame at times, but the environments, interactions with characters and scary scenes hold it together, making for a generally enjoyable gaming experience. So Silent Hill's plot was never going to win awards. Couple Sean Bean & Radha Mitchell (Chris & Rose) are struggling to understand the behaviour of their adopted daughter Sharron as she sleepwalks her way into dangerous situations, muttering the words 'Silent Hill'. Rose then takes her on a little journey to find such a place after googling it and only finding weak ghost stories. After some cold conversations with locals about Silent Hill, Rose ends up flooring it and being tailed by a cop (Laurie Holden) until a child appears in the middle of the road and crashes the car. Knocked unconscious from the accident, Rose awakens to find that Sharron has wandered off in a foggy, ash snowing town that they had sought. With the dense weather conditions and a collapsed bridge cutting off any escape route, Rose goes in search for her daughter and the answers puzzling her still. Along the way she is mortified by grotesque corpses and demonic children skulking about in the darkness. After coming across a maniacal Deborah Kara Unger claiming that Sharron is in fact her child, she reencounters the policewoman Cybil, who in turn attempts and arrest and dispatches a faceless, armless, acid spewing 'thing' with her handgun, only to see more of them wander closer in the distance. All while this is happening, Christopher hunts down anything related to Silent Hill, frantically searching for his wife and daughter to no avail. Eventually Rose & Cybil find an edgy woman sleuthing about in the decayed buildings and follow her back to her so called 'Sanctuary'. It is here when things take an insane turn and all sorts of devilish acts occur, further revealing the reasons behind the towns obscurity, the people dwelling within it and its relation to Sharron. Although there wasn't much to go on by the games, the film is rather ambitious with its splitting story-lines, unexplainable lunacy and intense end sequences.
"Mother is God in the eyes of a child." (Cast)
The main character Rose is portrayed well as an unrelenting mother figure who will stop at nothing to find her child. At times, Mitchell's screams of anguish seem incredibly forced as she's no doubt starting blankly at a green screen. Her part is a stereotypical role though as if it were her husband Bean running about the town, his interactions with its monsters would be far less threatening. Its only towards the end when she has to act judgmental and righteous that she looses some credibility. Sean Bean has a surprisingly small role as the father, scouting aimlessly around areas, trespassing and divulging in the towns history. His inclusion is shamefully tame. Holden's role as the cop, is decent enough as she takes to most of the evils with extreme prejudice thanks to her .45. Her haircut however is her main focal point. 12 year old Jodelle Ferland does a stellar job as Sharron, having to portray a second character with superb menace thanks to a gritty, undead yet innocent appearance and devious intention. Alice Krige's character Christabella is done well too as she acts out a patriarchal maniac, spouting words of supposed wisdom in front of her ignorant 'flock'. Deborah Kara Unger looks her part perfectly, but is let down by having dialogue that only consists of quotes and ancient sayings.
"Fire doesn't cleanse, it blackens." (Relation to Games)
Having played Silent Hill 2, I was keen on seeing this film, looking forward to how they include the creatures in game. The plot is along the lines of what happens in-game, except it attempts to cover the reasons behind the towns status as well as the past of characters. While it does have the addition of an unrelated Salem witch hunt theme, it blends in fairly well and makes for a gory, justified conclusion. Returning creature 'Pyramid Head' was a sight for sore eyes. The triangular helmet wearing, 7ft freak in a flesh stitched butchers apron, swings his gigantic sword with ease and is almost as frightening as his video game counterpart. His inclusion however is puzzling as he was the main characters interpretation of self loathing, a personal representation of fear and judgement.. still.. when the guy tears the skin off an unwitting bint and launches it at a church, you just have to say "fair enough". The barbed wire janitor/gimp/creature is also interesting thanks to his macabre posturing and fetish like dodgieness. I won't be writing too much about Alessa though as she is the final creature that ressembles the final boss of SH1. My personal favourite scene that represents the game well and is generally bloody freaky for anyone is with the Nurses. Bandaged women in white apparel miniskirts, twitch about in the darkness, endlessly drawn to the light. They use their surgical tools to swing away at anyone and anything - scalpels for example. Its soundtrack is entirely of Akira Yamaoka composition too (the original composer) which is a big plus and pleasant surprise considering most western films are dominated by the demands of Hollywood.
One particular difference I noticed between film and game is that its ending far more abstract and inconclusive than the several endings on offer in games. Instead, the film twists the audiences allegiance and perceptions that led them throughout the film - which in time, ends timidly (and by zooming in on a bush). Even though Silent Hill has stuck to its roots with some reluctance, it still isn't to the standard of being a stand alone film and only really caters to gamers and horror movie fans wanting to see some elaborate executions.
Summary: A genuine effort based on a video game series, Not a hollywood snatch and grab.