Dec 17, 2010

[Movies] Silent Hill (2006)

Silent Hill (2006)You all know I'm bad with horror movies. By the same virtue, I'm bad with survival horror games. And yes, I admit that I was terrified even by the old games like the original Alone in the Dark with its polygonal gargoyles. Hell, I'd get stressed out playing The 7th Guest and Myst and those aren't even horror games, haha! I'm just tightly wound up in that manner.

My partner is a major horror movie fan and he's big on survival horror games. Before any of you can attempt to quip that this is evidence that "opposites attract" or something like that, let's get back to topic.

So my partner has been doing his part in introducing me to things that he loves, including all the horror stuff. I can only really watch these kinds of movies with him around and as for games, well, I'm content watching him play. And he's a major Silent Hill fan, so the chances of me being introduced to this movie were inevitable.

Akira Yamaoka takes the stage for Silent HillImage via WikipediaSilent Hill is the 2006 horror movie adaptation of the popular Konami video game of the same name. It was directed by Christophe Gans and written by Roger Avary. The music mainly came from the compositions of Akira Yamaoka, who created the music for the games.

In the movie, Rose (Radha Mitchell) and Christopher Da Silva (Sean Bean) are having trouble with their adopted daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland). Every night she is plagued by nightmares that causes her to sleepwalk into dangerous locations. All the time she screams the name of some small town they've never been to - Silent Hill. Determined to find a cure for her daughter, Rose takes Sharon on a trip to find this town, hoping for answers. While being pursued by a motorcycle cop named Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden), Rose just barely misses running over a mysterious girl who suddenly appears in the middle of the road. She wakes up with Sharon missing and a steady stream of ash falling from the sky.

Rose finds the town of Silent Hill to be pretty much deserted. However when the sirens blare, things turn completely dark and fiendish demonic creatures roam the land freely. Thus her search for her daughter is complicated by these dark periods even after she eventually convinces Cybil that this was not a normal place. Meanwhile, Christopher sets out on his own search to find his wife and child and he ends up in a different version of Silent Hill, thus establishing that the town exists in multiple realities of some sort.

The movie has a number of differences with the game according to my partner and I'm not sure if those changes were truly needed to tell a good story. In fact, had it not been for my partner explaining some of those changes being an experienced Silent Hill player, I'm not sure if I would have understood the plot. So yeah, in that regard things were a little muddy.

Mitchell made for a pretty decent leading lady. There was no intentions of her becoming some kick-ass female character. In the end she was a mother caught in circumstances beyond her control. Despite her lack of skills, she never gave up looking for her daughter, and that was generally believable. The only weird bit was the fact that she could sometimes make large crowds of people stop what they were doing just by shouting, but that's another story.

The director was clearly a fan of the game franchise or maybe the writers were. In the end, the movie had a lot of nice touches that were direct references and homages to the game, thus making things more enjoyable for the fans. Even though I've only watched other people play Silent Hill, even I could appreciate the little additions here and there to make things more in line with the original game. And the effects were generally consistent with the look and feel despite challenges with budget in some places, as based on my research.

If anything, the music was certainly central to making this movie truly worth something. There are few games that are so directly tied to its musical score, but Silent Hill was definitely one of them. To create a movie based on the game without the music would have been an utter tragedy so kudos to the producers for securing the rights for the original music.

To be fair, the original Silent Hill game wasn't all too clear and for the movie to be the same way kind of makes sense. It never claimed to have a simple, linear plot. Instead it's a very complex story with dark histories and all that good stuff at the heart of the fiendish plot. The monsters are just a bonus and I'm glad they didn't try to turn this into an action shoot'em up kind of movie.

Silent Hill does its fair part in trying to feel like the survival horror video game it was based on. It gets 3 creepy bandaged nurses out of a possible 5.


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