A not so silent town called Silent Hill…

Now, let me begin by saying I am a HUGE fan of the Silent Hill video game franchise. I have loved all four of the games and hope they continue to make them creepy and awesome. They really are the scariest games I have ever played. When I heard they were making a movie about it, I just about crapped myself. No, seriously. So, since then, I have been waiting with baited breath for the release. Last night I was privy to the sneak preview. I can proudly say this movie lived up to almost all of my expectations.

Video games movies, on a whole, are never very good. There are the scattered few that are watchable (the first Resident Evil) and way many more that are laughable at best (um…House of the Dead). So even though I was very excited to see this one, I went in with hesitation.
Silent Hill is a movie about a woman named Rose (Radha Mitchell from Pitch Black) who is trying to help her daughter (Jodelle Ferland) work out her crazies. She has sleepwalking dreams about a place called Silent Hill. Rose’s husband (Sean Bean) thinks she should be medicated. Rose decides to take Rose on a trip to the town she is dreaming about, against her husbands will. When she arrives in the town, very strange things start to happen. As a matter of fact, she can’t even leave the eary town until what is going on there is resolved. As it turns out, there is a past to the town (surprise, surprise) and before Rose can have her daughter back, she has to figure out what happened in Silent Hill. Let the creapiness ensue.
Christophe Gans helmed this bad boy. You may remember him from a movie call Brotherhood of the Wolf, a little French import that made the art house circuit a few years back. It was a tremendous movie and the visuals were well above top notch. This film is no exception. The atmosphere is Silent Hill is palpable. Dust and rust are the norm and he uses them in a great way. The town itself as as much a character as anyone in the movie. The baddies are gross and well thought out. There are the few that made the transition from the game and they made me happy. He even comes up with a few on his own and those are also creepy as hell. One of the best is a crazy, Cirque Du Soleil clown from hell that creeps towards Rose in one of the better scenes in the movie. He walks on his hands and has his feet tied over his head with barbed wire. Hard to explain, but that is the norm in this crazy ass town.
So, visually, the movie gets an A+. The acting is nothing to spectacular. Radha Mitchell does a fine job as the screaming mother, but never really gets to do anything she didn’t already do in Pitch Black. Alice Kridge does a great job as the towns whacked out leader. She looks and acts the part perfectly. But the real stars are the creatures and the sets. It is pretty hard to show up these big boys. And unfortunately, no one really cares to try.
The biggest disappointment was the dialog. The script itself was well put together. Nice moments of tension, nice story arc, well thought out plot devices. There are a bit too many unintentionally funny lines, though. For instance, as the characters are walking through a section of building that is way obviously been burned thourouly, one of the characters says nonchalantly “Looks like a there was a fire here.” No….really?!?!? I was saddened to learn that the script was writen by Roger Avery. He penned all the stories Pulp Fiction had to offer. Granted, Tarantino actually wrote the dialog, but the stories were Avery’s all the way. Maybe I see why Tarantino decided to write the dialog himself…

The biggest gripe I would have is that it really isn’t all that super scary. The reason you are scared when you play the game is that you might die at any moment. In the movie, you know the main character has to live. So it just becomes a movie about following a mother around who sees lots of really creepy shit. I guess that is where a movie adaptaion from a video game will always fall short. The main character who is always in peril in the game cna never really be in peril in the movie. Alas, the conundrum of cinema. There is no continue feature. Not saying there should be, but there it is.

Overall this movie is a great one to see. It is the BEST video game adaptation to date. They actually took a mature rated game and gave it an R rating. And believe me, it earns it with a few choice scenes. This is not really for the squeamish. I had some crazy dreams when I went home and went to bed. I can’t wait for this one to come out on DVD.
3 out of 4 stars

4 Comments so far

  1. Gus Mastrapa (unregistered) on April 21st, 2006 @ 10:55 pm

    I didn’t expect to see a gamer post on this blog. After all the negatives I’ve been hearing about this flick, it’s nice to hear someone recommend it.

    I’m jazzed to see Pyramid-head.

  2. Nate (unregistered) on April 22nd, 2006 @ 10:57 am

    Pyramid Head is awesome. He has one of the earn-the-R-rating moments in the film. And you can expect to see more reviews on this page. I am a huge movie fan and am hoping to help people from a non-critic vantage point. Critics are dumb…even though that is what I am essentially doing…

  3. Urgewyrm (unregistered) on April 24th, 2006 @ 1:18 pm

    Pyramid Head has probably the best introduction to a bad guy scene of all time. Seriously, it’s the best reveal I’ve ever seen in a movie.

    Most of the negative stuff floating around about the movie is either from hardcore gamers or people who are, apparently, pathologically stupid. The movie does an excellent job of revealing the entire plot to you and only leaves a couple of unanswered questions which really don’t affect your enjoyment of the movie at all.

    It’s a great flick.

  4. skyvault (unregistered) on April 24th, 2006 @ 9:27 pm

    I thought the movie got extremely corny at the end but was scary for the first half, kind of wish i would have waited till it came out on video

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