Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 2 hours 6 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Strong Horror Violence and Gore, Disturbing Images, and some Language
Directed by: Christophe Gans
Written by: Roger Avary
Starring: Radha Mitchell, Laurie Holden, Sean Bean, Deborah Kara Unger, Alice Krige & Jodelle Ferland
Turning a video game into a movie is usually a death sentence for both the game in question and the film adaptation. Leave it to Christophe Gans (director of the adult fairy tale BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF) to do it properly. Originally Konami didn’t want anybody to even attempt to do a feature film of their hit horror franchise. Gans eventually convinced them into giving him permission after completing a short version financed on his own budget that impressed the company greatly. They gave him the rights and he created the best video game film to date, not a huge compliment but it still stands for something.
Rose is a mother struggling to make sense of the emotional distress that Sharon, her adopted daughter, is going through. Sharon keeps waking up in the middle of the night, sleepwalking into dangerous places and muttering something about a town called Silent Hill. In order to try and cure her daughter’s mental problems, Rose makes a trip to Silent Hill with Sharon, against her husband’s wishes. Her husband was very right to be worried, because Silent Hill is an abandoned ghost town and Rose crashes on the side of the road.
She wakes up to find that her daughter is missing and the town is somehow cut off from the rest of the world. A mist engulfs Silent Hill and ash seems to be constantly falling. Things get even stranger as Rose discovers that a mysterious darkness takes over at seemingly random periods of time. This darkness invites twisted beings and disturbing monsters to come out. Rose must brave the heat of a literal hell and a nightmarish dimension to save her daughter.
SILENT HILL nails many things down perfectly. These include the atmosphere of dread and an emotionally depressing final note. Elements from different games are combined and used to create a film that stands on its own as much as it does justice to the video games that served as an inspiration for the movie. In some aspects, things are a little corny. This is mainly in some really bad dialogue, but these moments are few and far between.
The monsters that would seem impossible to bring to life without a studio using cheesy CGI are brought on-screen using some downright cool methods of practical effects and make-up techniques. Though this movie isn’t all about the creatures, because there is actual emotion and underlying themes injected in it as well. The backstory is given in bits of exposition and pays off in spades in the finale, which simply has to be seen to be believed. What’s truly astounding is the little details that Gans includes, from the grimy soot on a barefooted woman’s feet as she walks through piles of guts to the impressively constructed industrial wasteland that a school transforms into. It feels like the game has come to a hellish reality and one can appreciate the film for that alone.
With a running time that exceeds just over two hours, I can see some people easily being bored by SILENT HILL and only enjoying it when the mayhem and monsters come into play. Personally, I loved the build up. I thought the atmosphere was suffocating and great. The horrifically beautiful and twisted imagery makes for more than just a standard video game film (cough, RESIDENT EVIL, cough). Give SILENT HILL a watch this Halloween season!