Review: Silent Hill
Review of Silent Hill
Another film in the "video game as cinema" school, Silent Hill is everything we have come to expect from turning decent video game titles into Hollywood movies. First, let me preface this with I haven't played Silent Hill: the game more then once or twice. So I am taking the movie strictly on its Hollywood story telling.
The story kicks in with a little girl troubled with sleep walking and awakens screaming "Silent Hill". Her adopted mother is convinced this town of Silent Hill is somehow connected (Obviously an investigative genius) and decides to visit the town. The father is against the idea, so the mother and girl set off alone. Once they arrive in Silent Hill, the daughter leaves the mother and the rest of the movie is a two hour amber alert. Shockingly, we learn that Silent Hill is a town of many secrets and that the daughter is somehow the key to all that is evil in Silent Hill.
The premise is neat. I like the idea of multiple "dimensions" or "worlds" co-existing. Once the mother and daughter arrive in the town you are visually assaulted with the three worlds in the film. The real world is brightly colored and alive with life and rain. The shadow world is black and white with a layer of ash covering everything. This world was the most visually stunning of the three and was done really well. Pealing paint and abandoned buildings and vehicles covered in this gray soot really gave the look and feel of the end of the world. The third world, or the "darkness" is pretty much the films version of hell. Rust and steel are the themes here with everything an ugly orange or red. The transitions between worlds was interesting visually.
Some of the effects are pretty disturbing. There is a scene where a steel headed demon climbs the stairs to a church and grabs a woman. He proceeds to twist her skin from her body and fling it at the church doors! NEAT!!! The final scene in the church is odd. They use barb wire as the main weapon, with huge tendrils grabbing and exploding all the crazy religious nuts. Now I am a big fan of blood and gore monster flicks, but this movie did take it a step to far. The leader of the church, a woman who believes the end has come and that only they are to be saved, is lifted up by the barb wire and we see these strands of barb wire shoot up her dress. Now while we don't see anything visual, the implication is direct. This woman just got fucked with barb wire... the wire then makes her chest spray blood and then her mouth opens and the wire exits. But we aren't DONE YET!!! the wire then decides its had enough and goes its separate ways, taking her with it, or at least one half of her either way.
The scatterbrained back story. There are so many tangents to the story, its hard to center on any single one and if you do, you miss out on any of the sub plots. There is a major piece of the story involving backwoods religion and demons and witches. There were also lots of things that just got dropped. There is a pretty bad ass demon with a giant steel head and 7 foot sword that just sorta disappears! All I could think was that this guy must have caused many a gamer to reload saved games to beat, and we didn't get any kind of resolution. He makes his big scene at the church, no one fights him, or even really cowers in fear from him, and that's it! There is also a subplot of the motorcycle cop and the cop in the town that never gets explained or really makes much sense. The original events happened back in 1975, and no one has changed. I can accept this with the town being caught in a multi-dimensional time slip of sorts. But the cop in the neighboring town was there in 1975 and is there NOW and he looks the same. He didn't age a bit in 30 years even though he is in the real world? WTF?
The high school drama club acting. This movie was cast horribly. The audience doesn't develop any attachment to the characters. In fact, when the adopted mother is stuck in the darkness world getting that seven foot sword stabbed at her all I could think of was "Jesus woman, she is ADOPTED!!! Let her go! You can get another one!" The melodrama was so bad, our audience laughed in some fairly inappropriate places.
This is a typical game to movie translation. Don't expect too much and you wont be let down.