Silent Hill

Directed by Christophe Gans

Released by Sony Pictures Entertainment

Rated R for strong violence and gore, disturbing images and some language

Running Time: 119 minutes

By Jon Minners

Silent Hill revolutionized the video game horror genre after Resident Evil saturated the zombie market.  The first game was an inspired tale that captivated video gamers and inspired three more sequels.  Having beaten the first game, eagerly anticipating each day I had the chance to play, I was excited by the prospect of a movie adapting all the horror and disturbing images that played out on my screen like a Marilyn Manson video.  The second and third games were a thrilling rush of adrenaline that I played in the dark, angered by my inability to complete due to a horrendous work schedule.  A fourth game has been released that looks to take the horror title to a new level and finally, that movie I envision has made it to the big screen. 

Resident Evil was probably the best movie adaptation of a video game in some time, but the movie did not totally follow the game; just its ideas.  The second movie seemed to be more like the game and the movie suffered because of it.  That said; movie titles that are taken from games do not necessarily live up to the hype. A horror title is even harder to succeed, because your audience is already limited to diehard horror fan not looking for a spectacular storyline.  So, it is safe to say that those who went to see Silent Hill did so with little expectations.  When they left, I am sure many felt satisfied with what they saw.  I know I did. 

Following the storylines of the first three games, Silent Hill focuses on Radha Mitchell, who many remember from Pitch Black, a movie that shocked audiences by being much better than expected and creating a franchise that featured the first video game to exceed the movie sequel in terms of playability.  Mitchell plays Rose Da Silva, a young mother who has adopted a young girl that dangerously sleepwalks and screams out the name of a Virginia mining town known as Silent Hill.  Worried by her daughterís actions, Rose takes her to the town, despite her husbandís reservations and despite the strange history tied to the town. 

Once there, the mother is separated by her daughter and must find her in the ash filled town whose secret comes out first in the form of horrifying creatures that only get worse with the sound of a disturbing siren heard throughout the town.  Her only ally is a cop that was ready to arrest her for endangering a child, but soon helps her in an effort to reunite the mother and daughter.  The rest of the cast is rounded out by a husband who searches for his wife in the town, another cop who helps the concerned patriarch, and a group of zombie-like inhabitants who are surrounded by the nightmare of a town cursed by a fire that seemed to claim the life of a young girl who looks strangely like Sharon; Roseís daughter.  

The movie suffers in a number of areas.  Without a video game backing it, the movie tries to explain how the characters end up in Silent Hill leading to an atrociously boring beginning that worries the viewer.  A convoluted plot hampered by bad dialogue gives way to a totally different film once the characters enter Silent Hill.  This is where the production design comes into play.  Straight out of the video game, the set design brings viewers into a nightmare where it snows ash, where there is a constant haze and where the creatures become more and more horrifying the longer they remain on the screen.  Imagine a burnt out creature who appears to be crying from the pain of a constant stay in the pits of Hell and then imagine slowly seeing more of the same creature appear on the screen, reaching and grabbing for a woman who has never seen such sights before, only to vanish into dust, its ashes scattered as if nothing ever happened. 

Other creatures include an armless zombie that spits out acid; a giant creature with a black pyramid for a head, who carries a large axe and releases a room full of giant roaches, which have human faces that scream out when killed.  A viewer almost feels sorry for these creatures that have manifested on this land.  The best scene comes from a group of nurse zombies that are attracted to the light and move as if they were in Michael Jacksonís Thriller.  The sad looking scene turns into a choreographed masterpiece, as our lead hero tries to avoid their attacks. 

Silent Hill is a visionary masterpiece with an inspired tale of witchcraft we have not seen in some time; hindered slightly by choppy dialogue and a sloppy monologue that attempts to explain all the events unfolding before us.  A very intriguing and thought provoking ending wraps the movie up tightly while offering viewers with exciting questions to discuss as they leave the film.  A great ending makes up for a boring beginning and definitely leaves room for a sequel.  If the sequel is anything like the future installments in the game series, I want to order my tickets now. 

If you love the game, you will definitely enjoy the movie.  All thatís missing is a game pad. 


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