Silent Hill (2006)
Silent Hill (2006)

Genre: Supernatural Horror Running Time: 2 hrs. 5 min.

Release Date: April 21st, 2006 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Christophe Gans Actors: Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Deborah Kara Unger, Alice Krige, Jodelle Ferland, Tanya Allen, Kim Coates, Maxine Dumont

 


 

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xtremist religions can be scary – though not as scary as a giant, bleeding, helmeted demon dragging a 12-foot bladed weapon. Several amusing themes run beneath the outward horror visuals in “Silent Hill,” though the Grand Guignol set designs and creature effects are clearly the film’s finest achievements. Fans of the source material will undoubtedly be pleased with the gruesome visualizations, as well as with the equally winding storyline that mimics the oftentimes disturbingly inconclusive plots of the video games. But those without some prior knowledge of the series will likely have difficulty consuming the narrative, especially with its desire to spell out the reasoning only after the audience has lost all trace of cognizance.

Rose (Radha Mitchell) and Christopher’s (Sean Bean) adopted daughter Alessa (Jodelle Ferland) sleepwalks and dreams of a mysterious place called Silent Hill. Desperate to find a cure for her daughter’s increasingly odd behavior, Rose takes Alessa to that very same, desolate ghost town, understandably against her husband’s wishes. Just before they reach their destination, Rose crashes her car while swerving to avoid a shadowy figure in the road, and is knocked unconscious. She awakens sometime later to find that her daughter has vanished into the heavy fog and ashy rains of Silent Hill. Receiving little help from local law enforcement, in the form of Officer Bennett (Laurie Holden), Rose begins feverishly searching for clues to Alessa’s whereabouts in the dilapidated remnants of the seemingly deserted town. As menacing horns blare and the milieu undergoes a nightmarish transformation, Rose must uncover the truth behind Silent Hill’s terrible past, all while surviving the horrendous monstrosities stalking its streets.

“Silent Hill” just might be the most faithful video game-to-movie adaptation ever made. However, this devotion to its beloved inspiration is also likely the greatest downfall when it comes to marketability. Anyone unfamiliar with the franchise will be unable to appreciate the great lengths the filmmakers went to retain the mood and imagery of the accursed universe, focusing instead on its perplexing storyline and the inevitably cheesy inclusions of video game staples – such as the memorization of maps or picking up clues in odd places. But the most rewarding aspect of “Silent Hill” is its visuals. The villains in the games were gore-soaked, writhing abominations, many of which are vaguely humanoid – and the look of these tortured souls translates to near perfection on the big screen (most of the concepts are taken directly from the second game). From the faceless, twitching nurses to the towering Pyramid Head and his colossal butcher’s knife, the effects department couldn’t have made this realm appear any more authentic. And the majority of these hellions were wisely brought to life with practical effects, whose power will be sustained for far longer than those born of computer generated imagery.

The gorgeously detailed sets are also a highlight, with some so accurate that they could have been still frames from the game. Crumbling hotels, an abandoned school, and the ominous hospital are so finely crafted, a fan couldn’t ask for more. Once the sirens wail and the town is submersed in a deteriorating purgatory, things get even better. Bloody walls, spinning fans, and an engulfing orange haze that lines the halls of peeling, rotting structures brilliantly pay homage to the many memorable moments from Konami’s popular property.

“Silent Hill” is a drastic step up for anyone tired of seeing their favorite video games slaughtered in the translation for mainstream moviegoers. Director Christophe Gans (“Crying Freeman,” “Brotherhood of the Wolf”) prudently favors appeasing the pre-existing fanbase at the cost of alienating those uneducated in Silent Hill’s lore, but perhaps a movie that appeals greatly to its loyal supporters is preferred to one that only mildly entertains a wide audience. And for those that speak ill of the film’s ambiguity when it comes to answers, that’s really what “Silent Hill” was – and still is – all about. It’s not supposed to make too much sense; the less explained, the more uncommonly supernatural, creepy, and unnerving.

– Joel Massie

  • 7/10