Poll: IT CAME FROM NETFLIX! Silent Hill

In my restless dreams, I see that town. Silent Hill...

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There are certain experiences that are consigned to particular media for one reason or another. As well as HBO has adapted Game of Thrones, the full expansiveness of the world and characters created by George RR Martin is best experienced in its original doorstopper book form. Hearing a song by Lady Gaga doesn't hold a candle to seeing her perform the song live on stage. And some video games are best left as video games, and not made into, say, movies. Nobody told this to director Christoph Gans, however, when he took the helm of 2006's Silent Hill.

Courtesy Rogue Pictures

Chris and Rose Da Silva adopted a little girl named Sharon nine years ago. Sharon's started having some really bad dreams and always screams the words 'Silent Hill'. Convinced that the haunted town that bears the same name holds the answer to her daughter's torment, Rose puts Sharon in her Jeep and drives to the town. When Chris follows, he's stopped by a police cordon and the ladies are nowhere in sight. Rose, however, loses Sharon quickly after her Jeep crashes, and wanders the town pursued by a dedicated motorcycle cop, a fiendish cult of witch-burners and, for some reason, nurses with big tits. Because big boobs sell more tickets.

For those of you just coming out from under your rocks, Silent Hill is a video game series in which the town of the title is plagued by a singular problem. You can be walking through the town, which seems normal, only to turn a corner or emerge from an elevator and find yourself in another world entirely. It's a dark reflection of our own, populated by creatures spawned from abysses beyond our ken and, in some cases, based heavily on our own fears, doubts and unrequited appetites. As the games progressed, the stillness and isolation that brought those fears out of us as we played petered out, replaced with the typical slavering bad guys to be bloodily dispatched with blunt objects seen in most horror games released in the West. But we're here to talk about the movie, right? Right.

Courtesy Rogue Pictures
Remember, even if you don't smoke, always have a lighter handy.

The problem with many adaptations, provided they aren't coming from a studio dedicated solely to bridging the gap between two media (which Marvel appears to have done with fraking rainbows), is the committees assembled by the money-hungry executives are so busy patching together fan favorite characters and moments that they completely miss whatever point the original story might have had. The point of the Silent Hill games defended to this day in spite of their dated graphics, terrible voice acting and asinine plots is being alone in a cloying darkness with something that hates you, not simply disgusting monsters and fiends in human skin just waiting for you to put a hole in them with a bullet or a bludgeon. Instead of a story of self-exploration, the film Silent Hill pits Rose against the town with the town's only motivation being the sort of generic evil force that chased Bruce Campbell through a forest and forced him to cut off his own hand with a chainsaw.

The interesting wrinkle in terms of story is that the cult isn't motivated by drug deals for tourism or awakening eldritch abominations, they're just good old-fashioned Bible-thumpers that know their Jesus, loving savior of all mankind that He is, cannot and will not suffer a witch to live even if said witch is a nine-year-old girl. The purity of purpose these people cling to is something actually frightening about this story, since I know people this simple-minded and blinded by unquestioning religious fervor exist. It's one of the things about the movie that works.

Courtesy Rogue Pictures
Hey, kids! It's Pyramid Head! *applause*

What doesn't work is the transition between worlds. Silent Hill usually consists of our world and its dark reflection, but Silent Hill the movie ups the ante with a third world in between. There's our world, a sort of parallel dimension covered in perpetual fog and ash and the signature dark hellish place populated with creatures from the franchise who pretty much showed up because representations of sexual repression and masculine aggression have bills to pay too. As mentioned before, switching between worlds in the games often happened without preamble, effectively blurring the lines of reality and causing the player to question what exactly was happening. The line between worlds in the movie is a very bold, clearly defined one, and there's a nice loud air raid siren just in case you aren't sure. To say nothing of all that nice creeping CGI on those environments! Boy, I bet those games from the PS2 era are just besides themselves with jealousy.

Despite having all its subtlety removed, its signature creatures reduced to generic horror baddies, the world structure unnecessarily complicated and the twist ending having no explanation whatsoever and all the impact of a wet noodle, Silent Hill is not without redeeming qualities. While the world of fog and ash is somewhat baffling, it and it alone brings on the feeling of stillness and isolation that made the games so memorable. It's juxtaposed with our world once or twice to great effect, and if the movie had just been about that divide and Rose and Chris trying to reach each other across it, the film might have really worked. There's some excellent sound design, some effective use of music and a scene in a bathroom that carries more tension in a few short moments than most of the exposition-laden second half holds. And then there's the way the character of Cybil looks in those leather pants. ... Sue me, I'm a straight male human.

Courtesy Rogue Pictures
The movie also passes the Bechdel Test like a champ.

Imagine, if you will, a cookie where the chocolate chips are actual chocolate, but the dough is actually made of insulation foam, and you don't realize it until it was already in your mouth. That's the film adaptation of Silent Hill put concisely. The few moments where some artistic choices overshadow the Frankensteinian construction of the movie and the fraying threads of plot used to stitch it together are simply not worth watching it fall to bloody pieces. I have to say this one is not worth your time. There are better horror films, better psychological ones and better video game adaptations.

Oh, I almost forgot. Sean Bean is in this, and he doesn't die. It would have been nice to see his character do something useful, but I guess that he, like us, became trapped without recourse or pity in a lonely world not of our making. At least Pyramid Head didn't show up out of nowhere to decapitate the poor guy.

Josh Loomis can't always make it to the local megaplex, and thus must turn to alternative forms of cinematic entertainment. There might not be overpriced soda pop & over-buttered popcorn, and it's unclear if this week's film came in the mail or was delivered via the dark & mysterious tubes of the Internet. Only one thing is certain... IT CAME FROM NETFLIX.

Which transformers movie is in the poll; Original, or Bay?

Geez man. You sound like you recorded that at midnight in the alps and didn't want to disturb a black bear in the next room. Speak up next time. It's a real pain and kind of annoying to listen to people speaking like that. Even if that is your real voice, many programs have a few functions to change the sound of voices.

Off topic: My captcha was Knoresio159 which sounds like some stupid gothic username for an MMO.

Souplex:
Which transformers movie is in the poll; Original, or Bay?

Bay.

Jeremytroid:
Geez man. You sound like you recorded that at midnight in the alps and didn't want to disturb a black bear in the next room. Speak up next time. It's a real pain and kind of annoying to listen to people speaking like that. Even if that is your real voice, many programs have a few functions to change the sound of voices.

It might sound quiet to you because I did something called noise reduction, as the original recording was permeated with BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. This is IT CAME FROM NETFLIX! not IT CAME FROM VUVUZELAS! I opted for something approaching production value, and in the playback it sounded okay.

Was your volume all the way up? How far did you have to crank it?

You are right in that the movie was about the town. It is also true that the monsters were there for the sake of being monsters and were not there as psychological shortcomings of the main characters. But you see, that's why I liked the movie. It was more like Silent Hill 1, not 2, and I liked Silent Hill 1 more. Silent Hill 1 was more about the town and monsters just being monsters, and the movie captured that very well. It even emulated specific places and scenes from Silent Hill 1 as good as any movie could have. If you wanted the movie to be more like Silent Hill 2, i can see how it would have disappointed, but that's not what the movie was trying to do. The only thing it shared with the second game was Pyramid head (for the sake of fan fodder) and that one body bag monster.

But I do agree that removing the subtle qualities of it all was bad, and that made the experience less enjoyable. We don't need to see the world transition; it's not scary when you see it. But what can you do, western studios don't understand how to make things genially creepy, just look at Dead Space 2 and any of the western made Silent Hill's.

BlueInkAlchemist:
This is IT CAME FROM NETFLIX! not IT CAME FROM VUVUZELAS!

When is IT CAME FROM VUVUZELAS! coming out? I mean I can wait maybe 2 weeks max for it, I NEED it man.

Fun review as always.

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Hi

Nice review and all but I'd have to disagree with a few things. Firstly how is the transition between the different worlds the "singular problem" with the game? That's where the game makes most it's story and is the point behind the town. Anyway game aside now for the movie.

There are in fact three dimensions to Silent Hill, possibly even more that we don't know about. Play the games.

The movie was well shot, the cinematography was brilliant, Christophe Gans being one of the best in the world at it, especially recreating the alley scenes from the original Silent Hill game, it was all very well done. Aside from a few plot merges between the first and second games the story was mostly sound although the ending was a bit "off" to say the least. If nothing else it'll be interesting to how Silent Hill 2 the movie will begin.

Generally the film was well done, not as good as it could have or should have been but still as video game adaptions go it's up there as one of the best. It's easy to see why they changed what they did from a film critics point of view. Changing the main character to a woman because women are seen as being more emotional and vulnerable. Putting Pyramid Head in there because he's a big scary monster you don't want to fuck with and putting Sean Bean in simply because there were no men in the film at all and I read before the film came out that whoever was in charge at the studio just wasn't happy about that at all. That's why his role is so small and un-needed.

 

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