Sunday, April 30, 2006

Silent Hill

First things first. I'm a huge fan of the video game series. Silent Hill has given me the experience of a lifetime, restless dreams and eagerness to complete and conceive the greater ideology that the game world creates.

Filled with cryptic conversations surrounding theological issues from members of ritualistic sects gone haywire, it's a difficult thing to understand where the real world ends and the parallel dimension begins. Silent Hill really is a tainted town, as seen in the movie, though nothing about a fire had been referred to in the games so far as I can remember. It has been tainted with beliefs of otherworldly "Gods", with a striking resemblance to the Devil himself.

Mentally unstable individuals holding on to their deranged ideas are sparsely found throughout the town. In fact, it has been called a ghost town and even the monsters (if they really are monsters as the third game poses this question in a remarkable cliffhanger moment) seem to be few. Are they simply manifestations of the protagonists, other mentally unstable individuals for reasons well known? Does Silent Hill hold the power to turn your worst nightmares into reality?

For whomever is interested in videogaming, I would strongly suggest he or she plays the whole series of the games. The brilliance of the storylines sometimes makes you stare in awe. When thick-headed snotty people (not naming them here) insinuate that video games are not art, this specific series should make them go hide in shame. It's art at its best.

As for the movie, it has retained the eerie atmosphere of empty foggy streets and this time with ever-falling ashes. When the horns sound and the darkness envelops the town, all hell breaks loose.

Blending elements from all four games, the movie still remains true to the original game's basic plot. There, Harry Mason and his daughter Cheryl (the name appears in the beginning of the movie in graffiti under a bridge) drive to Silent Hill, Cheryl disappears and it's your job to find her. Here, it is Rose (Radha Mitchell) and her daughter Sharon (Jodelle Fernand, who could just shrill a little less loud, my ears still hurt...).

When the producers returned the script to Avery saying there were no men in it, they implemented the character of Chris (Sean Bean), Rose's husband in the movie, who also takes an active role to go after his wife, when she decides to go to the town her sleepwalking daughter keeps mumbling about. His character is in fact a key to understanding a few things, as well as a passageway for further development.

The whole experience feels like you're still controlling a character who walks through levels collecting clues to find what they're looking for. The cinematography is great, the music is the same as in the games, even the song in the opening credits (which comes from the original game) and the one in the ending credits (Melissa Williamson's You're Not Here - a theme from Silent Hill 3).

For fan-boys and girls of the games, it will be a remarkable adventure. For regular moviegoers, it may seem as a creepy, flashy show-off movie with excellent visuals but loose plot and incomprehensible gore.

The movie does have a flaw, which is really sad. The plot really is rather loose and hard to understand (but then again, so is the plot in all the games), even more so when you are clueless of the whole Silent Hill mythos, may leave you a sour aftertaste, but the ending is quite interesting. The recurring theme of Mother in the games is here as well.

Making my way through rusty metal and sometimes bloody flesh walls, walking on rusted metal floors and defeating monsters, I had never seen such gore in the games as in the film. Some of the comments I heard while leaving the cinema were "It was great but why such gore? It totally blew the whole greatness". Blood and gore may be understandable though in a film like Silent Hill.

Although it was always a psychological horror that made your skin creep in the games, of course hand in hand with the terrifying environments, the blood did let flow at points.

Without fail the best video-game-to-screen adaptation, Silent Hill is one of the best looking horror films these years. Great cast and performances (pay attention to Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden)) great visuals and a worth-your-money gore fest.


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