Silent Hill

Silent Hill

 

Silent Hill

2006. Directed by Christopher Gans.

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One of the best video game adaptations made thus far, Silent Hill is a slow burn horror story with gruesome violence and surprisingly compelling visuals.  

Rose and Christopher's adopted daughter Sharon is sleepwalking and calling out "Silent Hill" during her nocturnal walkabouts.  Despite her husband's reservations, Rose takes Sharon and heads for the mysterious West Virginian town that has been closed off as a result of a still burning coal fire.  Once across the town line, a car accident knocks Rose unconscious.  When she rouses, Sharon is nowhere to be found.  With the help of a reluctant patrol officer, Rose heads into the town in search of her daughter, discovering that Silent Hill is a cursed place where nightmares roam its quiet streets.  .  

Dan Laustens's cinematography dominates throughout.  He presents the "light" side of Silent Hill as a post apocalyptic dream, saturated in muted whites and lonely grays.  Conversely, the "dark" side is drenched in blacks and reds, creating a hell of the mind, populated by rusty nails and twisted apparitions. Some of the best shots are of Rose endlessly wandering the streets, immediately capturing Silent Hill's renowned  atmosphere of dread.  Peter P. Nicolakakos's set decoration assists by recreating scenes from the game and presenting the town as a whisper of what it once was.  Wendy Partridge's costume design is compliments the visual style, with each character's outfits mimicking their digital counterparts with intricate detail.  

Gans and Roger Avary's script generated a lot of criticism for its stilted dialogue and overly long presentation.  However, I think this is one of the things that makes Silent Hill special.  It is painfully similar to not just its source material, but many other horror themed video games.  There's random interactions with the town's spooky cultists, endless wandering from location to location, laughably directed by bread crumb clues, and of course, a see it coming finale.  The make up and special effects deliver some outstanding CGI monstrosities and a few of the more memorable kill scenes in recent years that pleasantly overcome the blatant flaws  Of note is the Pyramid Head creature that flays its way through anyone unlucky enough to be in its path.  

Another important piece of the script is that it is refreshingly female centered. Motherhood is at the heart of Silent Hill's mystery and the film uses its considerable talent to glacially explore concepts of parenthood, guilt, and sacrifice.   Radha Mitchell stars as Rose and her performance is perfectly lukewarm.  Silent Hill is about ambiance and Mitchell's stock mother on a mission persona blends into the narrative without becoming overly melodramatic, as opposed to Alice Krige's ghoulish foil whose over the top fire and brimstone maiden who could be easily pulled from a tent revival near you.  Laurie Holden, Kim Coates, Deborah Kara Unger, Sean Bean, and Jodelle Ferland round out the cast, with Holden absolutely nailing the role of Officer Cybil, with respect to her electronic alter ego.

Available now for digital rental, Silent Hill is a video game film that doesn't fail.  While it doesn't really succeed in being a good film, it excels in honoring it's source and that alone merits a watch for any fan of the game series.   If you're looking for a better than average horror film to kick off the Halloween season, you can't go wrong with this one.  Great visuals, intense violence, and some decent performances meld together in a uniquely beautiful horrific offering.

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