Into the fire she swallowed their hate!
Director : Christophe Gans
Cast : Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Alice Krige, Deborah Unger and Jodelle Ferland
So my second mainstream review of this second “Season of Horror” is an even rarer review as it is a movie based off of a video game, something I’ve barely touched on in the past. This was my first exposure to the Silent Hill universe as I hadn’t played any of the games at that point, but this prompted me to start playing the games.
Rose (Mitchell) and Chris (Bean) adopted Sharon (Ferland) after she is found. She has a troubled past and Rose realises that she must return to where Sharon was born in order to find help. They are soon involved in an accident and Rose wakes up on the borders of a town called Silent Hill with it being blanketed in fog. She goes further into the town and looks around for clues as to where Alessa disappeared to, but soon an air raid siren sounds and darkness engulfs the town. She wanders some more, only to be attacked by several tiny creatures. The darkness lifts and the creatures disappear.
In a panic she returns to her car after waking, only to be arrested by a police officer called Cybil (Holden) as she initially believed that Rose wasn’t Sharon’s mother when they have encountered each other at a petrol station earlier, but the pair are soon attacked by a mysterious, armless creature that spews acidic acid at them. Cybil dispatches it but Rose uses the hoard approaching them as a distraction to escape.
Rose soon encounters Dahlia (Unger), who tells of Sharon’s true identity, a girl named Alessa that was burnt at the stake for being a witch. Darkness again falls upon the town and Rose becomes trapped in a room by several bugs that are able to eat through anything. Cybil eventually joins her in the room but as soon as she does, a huge sound of metal being dragged can be heard.
Why do I like this, aren’t all computer game movies bad?
It is often said that computer game movies are bad, but I don’t think that is necessarily true. Yes, there are a LOT of films that fall into that rule, but there are some that don’t. In my opinion this, the first “Resident Evil” and “Mortal Kombat” movies are decent big screen adaptions of computer games, with “Silent Hill” arguably being the most faithful to the source material.
As mentioned earlier, I didn’t know anything about the franchise before coming into this, other than seeing the odd clip on Youtube and having the most basic of basic understanding of what he actual premise was. After watching this I played a few of the games and realised that for the most part the film was faithful to the games and that is to be commended.
The film features a lot of gruesome and creepy monsters, such as the creature formed from the janitor. The creature has a gruesome, yet simple design, and is actually given a backstory that makes it clear that he deserved the punishment that he got. Granted, he is only a minor antagonist and is in the film for what is less than two minutes, but to say he’s one of the most memorable creatures with that little screen time says it all.
Of course he isn’t the main threat in the film and they come from both a supernatural and human element. Pyramid Head feels like a genuine threat throughout and is a juggernaut that only seems to be stopped when the world turns bright (well, as bright as it gets) again, whereas the cult feel crazy enough that you feel that they’re capable of anything, as proved with their burning of a child that they believe to be a witch without any proof at all.
Visually the film may appear quite bland in places, afterall most is set in either the fog or pitch black, but for me it worked and one element I loved is something that most won’t notice. As the film progresses Rose’s clothes go from a summery tone to something that must grungier and I read that this was based on costume design that meant each time she is on camera the film makers changed her costume to be ever so slightly less colourful than the previous time, meaning that it is a slow progression and one that isn’t noticeable straight away and shows her slow assimilation into the world.
Finally, as with most films I like, “Silent Hill” has excellent acoustics and brings you into the world. Whether it is the noise of the air horn that produces a Pavlovian response of fear, right through the atmosphere tones and to the use of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” when Rose wakes up after being attacked for the first time.
“Silent Hill” is, in my opinion, one of the few movies based on a computer game that is actually decent. Whilst it will never win any major awards, it is an enjoyable and often creepy movie that leaves an impression.
With enemies that feel like a genuine threat, decent building of several characters and being visually interesting in places.
If you’re not a fan of the games then maybe this won’t make