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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 166: Silent Hill

Silent Hill
At least she doesn't have to go to the dentist

As I've said in my Resident Evil reviews, I'm not much of a gamer. It's not that I don't like video games. I actually like them a lot. I have fond memories of playing Nintendo and Super Nintendo as a kid. It's just one of those things where new systems are always coming out and they're all expensive and blah blah blah. Some people take their gaming very seriously, with their special gaming chairs, headsets, and all sorts of accessories. Many of those same people take their horror movies very seriously. When a famous video game is made into a movie, heads explode in anticipation and usually disappointment. Just ask the Super Mario Brothers movie or the Double Dragon movie. The Resident Evil franchise has done well on the big screen, so why not try a video game that is truly scary.

Silent Hill is a 2006 adaptation of a video game by the same name starring Radha Mitchell (Pitch Black, Man on Fire) as Rose Da Silva. Rose's adopted daughter Sharon suffers from sleepwalking and speaks of a place called “Silent Hill”. Silent Hill is a ghost town, vacated after a coal fire that continues to burn after 30 years. Against her husband Christopher's (Sean Bean, The Lord Of The Rings, Black Death) wishes, Rose drives with Sharon to West Virginia in hopes that visiting the town will bring her some sort of clarity. As they approach Silent Hill, police officer Cybil Bennet (Laurie Holden (The Mist, The Walking Dead) pursues them. Rose speeds towards the town when a little girl appears in the road. She swears to avoid the girl, who disappears, and crashes her car. When she wakes, Sharon is gone and Rose realizes she has made it to Silent Hill. It looks like it is snowing, but it is in fact ashes falling from the sky. Rose meets a woman named Dahlia Gillespie who talks about her own daughter Alessa being abused by the town and alludes that both of their daughters are the same person. Rose tries to get back to her car, but Cybil handcuffs her and they search for the road out of town. They are attacked by an armless, faceless creature that spits black acid out of it's chest. They explore the town in search of Sharon and fight off various deformed monsters while Christopher scours the town with officer Thomas Gucci. Rose and Cybil seek refuge in the town church while the monster Pyramid Head tears a woman apart. The church is home to a religious cult led by Christabella (Alice Krige, Deadwood, Stay Alive). Rose escapes, but Cybil and Sharon are captured It is revealed that Christabella and her followers believed Alessa to be a witch and burned her, which accidentally set the town aflame. Alessa survived, but her pain and rage led the the creation of her dark side while Sharon is the manifestation of the last of her light. Alessa must gain her revenge and enters Rose's body. Will Rose be able to save Sharon and help Alessa gain some measure of peace?

I never miss the Hot Ladies With Short Blonde Hair convention

Video games are becoming more and more like movies, so you might think that a video game actually becoming a movie would be easy. Horror is a good genre for the transition to occur, but it's still hard to pull off. I've never played Silent Hill before, so I'm not going to compare and contrast the differences. While Resident Evil was a zombie movie, it focused more on action scenes and guns. Silent Hill is a crazy monster video game and it's a crazy monster movie. The monsters are very scary looking and unlike typical horror movie creatures. They are the stuff out of nightmares and the entire makeup and effects team deserve a lot of praise. The look completely inhuman and make the film far scarrier. If you're like me and unfamiliar with the video game, you won't know who these monsters are. I don;t think they ever referred to the monster Pyramid Head by name and if they did, I missed it. I only know his name because I've seen clips of the game. I don't need the names and origin stories of every monster, but a little hint now and then would have gone a long way.

Speaking of long, this movie is far too long, clocking in at about 2 hours. There was no need for the movie to be this long. There are a number of scenes that could have been shortened or cut out completely. I like Sean Bean and he acts well, but his character could have been completely eliminated. I read a while ago that the movie was supposed to only have women leads in it, but the studio insisted on adding a husband character. I understand why, but it unnecessarily extended the movie far beyond the point of toleration. There are some good scares and plenty of scenes that will make you feel uncomfortable. There is a good amount of action and the acting is good throughout. The score, taken almost entirely from the video games, sounds great and really stands out. The story itself it just alright, starting out with a good, thrilling mysterious, but crashes and burns when all is revealed. On top of the weak reveal, the ending left me feeling empty and a bit confused. I think I understand it, but I'm not entirely sure.

At least he's not named "Pyramid Balls"

Making a movie based on a video game is never easy. The fans have very specific expectations, but the film must be made in such a way that non gamers can enjoy them. I have no idea if Silent Hill fit gamers' expectations, but as a horror fan I was unsettled by some scenes and bored with others. The movie is far too long and goes off into unnecessary scenes that kill the flow of the movie. Certain scenes definitely feel like a video game, running from building to building and coming up against different “bosses”. The acting is good and the makeup/special effects are great. The story starts out well, but loses steam towards the end. It has it's scary moments and a decent amount of action, but the ending is disappointing and vague. Ultimately, it's a decent horror movie with a few serious flaws that keep is from being great. Expect a sequel some time in 2013 or 2014.


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