Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Deborah
Kara Unger, Kim Coates
One can not talk about movies based on videogames without
commenting on the many atrocities perpetuated on the genre.
It seemed as though the interactive media was doomed to never
get a fair shake in the theaters. When word that director
Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf) was to direct
a movie based on one of the darker, more psychological game
series, Silent Hill, fans became intrigued. With the
producer, Konami, paying close attention to the development
and many of the cast and crew playing the actual games, fans
were cautiously optimistic.
The movie begins with Rose (Mitchell) taking her daughter,
Sharon, to Silent Hill, a town the young girl calls out during
her sleepwalking sessions. After being chased by a motorcycle
cop (Holden), Rose wrecks her SUV, knocking her unconscious.
Rose awakens in a foggy, ashen world to find her daughter
is missing. She charges into the desolate town, only to find
herself under siege by monsters as a warning siren sends the
world into a deranged darkness.
After surviving her first run-in with the darkness that randomly
shows up in Silent Hill, Rose (and eventually police officer,
Cybil) follow clues left in the town that eventually lead
them to a church where the remaining survivors hide away from
the dark monstrosities that show up from time to time. At
this same time, Rose's husband Chris (Bean) is trying to find
her as he's escorted through the town by Officer Gucci (Coats)
from the nearby town of Brahms. Between this "real world"
portion and eventual revelations found by Rose tell a tale
of zealot-filled town who burned the young Alessa thirty years
ago, thinking she was a witch. During the ceremony, a fire
broke out, igniting the coal mines below the town and killing
many of the townspeople.
It's at this point where the viewer is lead into a string
of dark revelations involving Sharon and the dark little girl
who haunts the town. In true Silent Hill fashion, the
endgame is brutal and the ending leaves just enough open for
interpretation that viewers will have something to discuss.
I would have to say that the story does a good job at trying
to capture the Silent Hill feel, though some of the
plot decisions seem a bit iffy. I personally thought the endgame
felt a bit disconnected from the build-up, as if they knew
an ending needed to happen, so they whipped something up.
Also, the script can offer up some lines that are a bit cringe-worthy
and unnecessary. And, the whole sidestory with Rose's husband
feels bloated, offering more content than it's worth to the
story. Fortunately, most of the cast is more talented than
the script allows. Radha Mitchell is excellent in her role,
far surpassing the script she's given.
Visually, Silent Hill captures the locations and the
mood of the games quite well. Fans of the series won't help
but feel a certain level of nostalgia in just about every
shot. Locations feel as though they're pulled straight from
the games. Character designs are pulled largely from Silent
Hill 2, except for the Hellraiser-like Janitor. Fan favorite
Pyramid Head gets redesigned for the movie, but all for the
better. Instead of a decayed hunchback that twists inhumanly,
Pyramid Head is now a monstrous giant. It's a shame that he
has so little screen time, as his presence in the film provides
some nice set-pieces.
From a special effects standpoint, there's a lot that works
well here. The liberal use of real makeup and CG effects compliment
each other well. The transition from real world to nightmare
world is so wonderfully done, I almost wish they had done
it a few more times. The nightmare world sets are also done
excellently, feeling dirty, decayed and rust-coated.
Considering the large
catalog of music available from the four games, it's not
really a surprise that the movie features a vast number of
tracks from composer Akira Yamaoka. While most of the music
is lifted straight from the original material, there are a
few revised tracks and some string arrangements have been
added. The inclusion of Akira Yamaoka's music (including Lost
Carol, You're Not Here, Ordinary Vanity,
Wounded Warsong and the original Silent Hill
theme) does a lot for legitimizing the mood set in the film.
So, how does Silent Hill fare? In terms of the original
content, quite well. The movie tries to capture the feel and
does a fine job, though the story is not nearly as well realized
as the original games. As a movie based on a game, it stands
out in rare company. For those who are not versed in Silent
Hill, though, you may find yourself lost on a lot of the
fan service present.