Monday, October 17, 2011

Silent Hill Review

Confession: I have not played any of the Silent Hill games. I mentioned it last week, but it bears repeating. I was not familiar with the games at all when I watched the movie, either. I was aware of the game's existence and I knew it was foggy, but really and truly when I sat down to watch it, most of what I knew about Silent Hill I had learned from Linkara.

After watching the movie I decided to do some research, because I wanted to know how much of the movie was based on the game and how much of the movie was it's own thing.

My opinion on the movie: It wasn't bad, but it could have been better. It was about a lady named Rose and her daughter, Sharon. Sharon was adopted and has some strange connection to Silent Hill, a connection that's causing illness and sleep walking. Sharon shouts "Silent Hill" during these fits, and Silent Hill is in the same state and general area as the orphanage that found Sharon. Rose decides to haul ass to Silent Hill, without her husband's knowledge, to see if visiting the town would help open up parts of her past, and (as everyone imagines) hijinks ensue. This movie has a plot very similar to the first Silent Hill game, it just changed the name of some of the protagonists.

I didn't walk away from the movie disliking it, and honestly there were some genuinely scary moments. However, the movie definitely has it's issues, and I can see (having done the research) why some Silent Hill fans would be irritated about it. I'm just gonna use numbered points here, because I'll ramble endlessly otherwise.

1: the first transition from the Fog world to the Other world was the best. Shit faded to black for a second, then the little children things attacked. Each subsequent transition added more and more CGI, and it just killed the mood. I have a very long rant stored up about CGI and how it harms more than it helps in a lot of films, but suffice it to say that for a movie that depends on atmosphere, CGI just kills the whole mood.

2: Rose runs away from a cop. This was the first of several things that made me really roll my eyes. Her talking to the cop, maybe explaining that they were looking for information about Silent Hill, the cop talking to the little girl, would not have taken very long. But for some insane reason she pulls over, sees the sign for Silent Hill, and thought "You know what? I'm going to try to outrun the cop in a ghost town that probably has at least one section of the road entirely missing due to sinkholes." It only comes into play for about five minutes, but it's clearly an artifice meant to expand the movie time by about five minutes. It also bothers me because this is a hugely dangerous tactic- Silent Hill is on top of a coal fire (more about that below) and that can cause sinkhole to open up suddenly. The road could end at any moment and she barrels down it. It's implied that Rose did her research, so she knows this. It just comes off as mind-breakingly reckless in more than one way.

3: The husband. Sean Bean plays Rose's husband. He appears to be in this movie, and probably believes he actually is.  In spite of all appearances and beliefs, he's not actually in the movie. He is completely auxiliary to the actual plot and we only cut to him to fill out the movie a little, and it cuts into the actual plot. I read on the IMDB webpage that his character was added because the movie producers were unhappy that the cast was comprised largely of women (aside from a few lackeys) and I do applaud the writer for not making the man save the day, but I do wish this had been handled otherwise. The only thing these scenes do is establish that the Fog world is different from IRL, and I think that would have been more effective if they'd saved it for the end.

4: Centralia. One of the points of the movie is that Silent Hill is sitting on top of a large underground coal fire. If that sounds familiar, that's because a town named Centralia is suffering the same fate. These fires cause a lot of structural problems in the ground, there are huge sinkholes that just open up randomly in Centralia, and it's a very dangerous place to be. Silent Hill is already dangerous, and the coal plot point only comes up once or twice. It's basically scripted reason for why there is falling ash, but it doesn't actually add anything to the plot, and the reason for the coal fire is a little farfetched. Basically, that part could have been left off and caused no changed to the plot whatsoever.

There are other small points, but those are the big ones. I thought for a little while that Rose would die and the cop lady would end up saving the little girl- the scenes with Sean Bean actually kinda hint at this, and it would have made those scenes make more sense. It would have made the movie a lot more interesting, although they would have had to focus a little more on Sharon to make it really interesting- then we wouldn't know if anybody was gonna rescue her, or if she was gonna rescue herself.

I probably would feel more strongly if I were a fan of the games, or had even played any of them, but I am divorced from the source material entirely. I can definitely see why it pissed off some people, but it wasn't a bad way to kill some time. Had some creepy moments, and while there were a few things that bugged me, I dunno. If you twisted my arm I'd say it was a C+, passable with some good moments and a bit of potential, but ultimately nothing special.

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