Friday, January 05, 2007

Silent Hill (2006)

Silent Hill (2006)
The film adaptation of Konami's successful 'survival horror' videogame franchise continues the long running tradition of videogame based films sucking.

The story goes something like this - a woman (Rose) takes her adopted daughter (Sharon) to a creepy town called Silent Hill, because the girl has been walking in her sleep and uttering the words 'Silent Hill'. When they get there, they enter some sort of alternate reality and Sharon promptly disappears - why, we'll never know. Rose ends up teaming up with a policewoman (Cybil) who followed them into town. The town turns out to be some kind of messed up nightmare full of bizarre, grotesque creatures. At certain points, a siren goes off and the place turns even more hellish, with... even more grotesque creatures! Meanwhile, in the 'real world' Silent Hill (which is a ghost town), Rose's husband Christopher (Sean Bean, sporting a hilarious accent) takes part in a superfluous subplot as he searches for his wife and daughter.

The thing about the Silent Hill film is that it's not really a film. It's a loose collection of scenes that are tied together by a cheap plot device. Rose glimpses her daughter running away, runs after her, and encounters something new and horrible. Wash, rinse, repeat. There's a story about the town's dark past and a bunch of religious fanatics, but it's handled in as stupid a manner as you can imagine, and only really comes into play towards the film's conclusion. The script is... perfunctory at best. The acting... forgettable. There's a truly ridiculous scene towards the end where Rose tries to appeal to the fanatical mob; this is followed by (hilarious) cries of "she's a witch! burn her!". These scenes are so over the top that they're pretty much parody-proof!

The only things this film has going for it are its atmosphere and production design. The town of Silent Hill is creepy, the monsters look truly revolting, from the weird 'nurses' with scalpels to the pyramid head man / thing with the giant sword. But these elements are all lifted straight from the game, so the only credit the filmmakers deserve is in implementing them cinematically. Given how cinematic the games themselves are, it couldn't have been that tough. Kudos for not over-relying on CGI however. The whole film feels like bits of the game cobbled together. The only thing is, when you play the game, you're playing the game. Watching a bunch of cutscenes isn't that much fun. Plus, from what I've seen of them, the games appear to have better narratives.

The only other 'memorable' thing from this movie is stuff you'll want to forget. And that's the truly gratuitous violence towards the end, which is both absurd and disgusting. It's there for shock value alone, plain and simple, and it brings nothing new to the table; if anything, it manages betray the more restrained creepiness that was established during most of the film. These scenes of Grand Guignol will make you laugh and feel queasy at the same time.

It's a shame the film's so poor. I expected more from Christophe Gans, whose stylish and entertaining Brotherhood of the Wolf was orders of magnitude better than this. And word is, he's planning on making a sequel. That, like this, will probably be one to avoid.


Tish said...

Terrific review, and oh so true! I've never played the games, but the movie truly sucked!

Antimatter said...

Thanks :) I think we're not the only ones who arrived at that conclusion! I quite looked forward to it when it was in development, with Christophe Gans involved... Despite the bad reviews, I still had to see it for myself!