Directed by Christophe Gans (2006)
Reviewed by Steve, added on Apr 24 2006
I was very worried about this movie when I heard its makers werenít letting it be screened by critics. Usually thatís a terrible sign for a movie. But after seeing it for myself I really donít know what exactly they were trying to hide. Iíll put this very bluntly. Silent Hill is one of the best horror movies I have seen in a very long time and certainly the best game to movie adaptation ever made.
The story for those of you that donít know is this. Roseís adopted daughter suffers from strange dreams and is constantly sleepwalking into dangerous situations. Every time she awakens from her little adventures she starts blabbing about a town called Silent Hill. And so against her husbandís wishes, Rose packs up her daughter and decides to seek out this sleepy little town. Rose needs a new travel agent.
Upon getting into town she wrecks her SUV and awakens to find her daughter missing. She meets up with a biker cop named Cybil and they spend the rest of the movie going to Hell and back (pretty literally) trying to find Roseís daughter.
The town of Silent Hill is visually stunning. The creepy fog is everywhere and when the Hell world appears the transformation involved is truly terrifying. Original game music is also used in the movie which helps make the atmosphere of the flick dead on perfect with the game. Several little nuances of the game also appear in the film such as their use of famous horror authorsí last names as street names. The one that stood out to me was Bachman, named for Richard Bachman a.k.a. Stephen King. This is taken directly from the first Silent Hill game. I also enjoyed the bread crumb like trail of clues Rose has to follow to find her daughter such as her daughters drawings, another moment taken directly from the first game. To put it in perspective, I have never seen a movie based on a game that heeds so much of its source material as Silent Hill does.
The movie is also fairly gory as well. Itís not anything that hasnít been done before and Iím sure a lot of hardcore horror fans would think it weak by their standards, but if you come looking for buckets of blood, you wonít be disappointed. One scene in particular, featuring Pyramid Head (who wins the award for coolest villain in a horror movie in the last 10 years) and a character named Ann left me having to pick up my jaw and blot drool from my chin. Again, not anything we havenít seen before, but definitely unexpected. And very much welcomed.
By this point youíre probably thinking it canít be all good right? Right. The movie does have its share of flaws. And here they are in no particular order. Cybil acts like sheís a robot for the first half of the film, she also looks like a female version of the liquid metal terminator in T2 when you first see her and Pyramid Head isnít in the film nearly long enough. Also the CGI monsters in the movie look very cartoonish and fake compared to their make-up and prosthetic covered actor companions. But, and this is a big but, the monsters played by actors in the film are spot on and creepy as hell. I never did like those nurses. Probably the biggest offender in the movie is Roseís husband. All of his scenes involve little more than yelling Roseís name and looking for clues about the downfall of Silent Hill. These scenes only serve to bog down the movie and considering everything he finds out is also discovered by Rose, are completely pointless. I guess they just needed a male lead. Also after the first half of the movie, the focus shifts away from the monsters and onto an actually plot (GASP!). I wonít delve much into it, but the ending itself seems very rushed (though delightfully bloody), and the entire plot in general seems like something anyone could have scribbled on a napkin in about 15 minutes on their coffee break.
But those grievances aside this is a damn fine horror movie. The filmmakers captured perfectly the feeling of dread prevalent in all the games, and at least in my opinion, make the lackluster story easy to forget. So long as you donít go into the theater holding it on an Olympus level platform, youíll come away a very happy moviegoer. Silent Hill is as creepy as ever in movie form.
Comments from MaT...
I agree, Silent Hill is probably the coolest looking horror film to come out of Hollywood in quite some time, but there were just too many weak points for me to give it a high rating. I've never played any of the games, but the plot was pretty ridiculous (and I kept thinking that Emperor Palpatine was going to show up. The girl looked like she just fought Obi-Wan on Mustafar) and very contrived towards the end.
Pyramid Head was badass though, and there was a lot of cool gore and creepy monsters. If only they could have gotten some decent actors and a decent script. 6.5/10