Director – Christophe Gans
Cast – Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Deborah Kara Unger, Kim Coates, Tanya Allen, Alice Krige, Jodelle Ferland
Release Year – 2006
Reviewed by John of the Dead
It is no surprise to me that the horror realm went with the idea of adapting horror-themed video games. Why? If there is one thing we horror fans love almost as much as horror films…it is horror video games. With the more than positive success of the Mila Jovovich-starring Resident Evil adaptation, it lead to two of the biggest horror video game franchises being adapted as well. Doom was cheezy but an overall positive watch, however neither Doom nor Silent Hill was as cinematically epic as Silent Hill.
This film follows a woman named Rose who embarks on a search for the town of Silent Hill, believing it to be the “Silent Hill” her daughter screams about during her recent, and worsening, night terrors. Upon her arrival at Silent Hill she loses her daughter, and then comes to the horrific realization that this town has become a ghost town for good reason. Thrown into an alternate eerie dimension filled with ghastly creatures and a radical cult with vehement practices, her quest to cure her daughter of what ails her may be what destroys them both.
I will say right now that I did not play the Silent Hill video game(s) avidly, although I do understand the basic elements of the games. I will not overly compare this film to the video games mainly because 1. I did not play them enough to make any educated comparisons and 2. Because I want to review this also simply as a film, without the influence of having the video game knowledge.
Silent Hill proved to be a great watch for me, and I give nearly all of the praise to director Christophe Gens and Pulp Fiction co-writer writer Roger Avary. Christophe Gens is no stranger to beautiful films with his previous directorial effort, Brotherhood of the Wolf. His visuals in this film are amazingly done and well crafted. How well crafted? There were 150 sets used for this film! If anyone knows how to create atmosphere and scout locations…it is Christophe Gens. What really surprised me about this film was how very well it paced for a film slightly over two hours in length. We get films that are a mere 85 minutes with pacing issues thanks to bad direction, so a two hour film with great pacing is a testament to great director and/or great writing. Most of this cred in my opinion goes to Mr. Gens due to him captivating the viewer with what they SEE on screen, however I love to give writers the credit their deserve(not enough do that) and I believe Roger Avery’s tight screenplay worked perfectly with this film’s subject content. He managed to have this film’s movements flow perfectly and get just the right amount of dialogue and action mixed together to make this not just visually stimulating but one with a very engaging story.
I really loved the look of the creatures put into this film. The nurses were extremely creepy, and I really loved the armless guys towards the beginning of the film. We get several other types of equally awesome creatures thrown in, but none are more epic than that of “Pyramid Head”. One of the more recognizable antagonists from the video game, Pyramid Head was an especially EXCELLENT addition to the film mainly because Christophe Gens didn’t screw up the character and instead made him awesome as hell. He also didn’t skimp away from the gore with this film, especially with this film incredibly epic climax. I can honestly say it is one of my favorite horror climaxes ever. The gore is intense, the vengeance involved is heavily fulfilling and the form the vengeance was acquired with is just plain frickin awesome.
So far I’ve done nothing but praise this film but I regret to inform you that I had one MAJOR problem with this flick…the acting performances by BOTH Radha Mitchell (as “Rose”) and Laurie Holden (as “Officer Cybil Bennett”). Both of these women gave horrible cold performances and seemed like they were in desperation of receiving Razzies for their performances. I don’t know what made director Christophe Gens go through with these two actresses acting this way, maybe he had his one gaffe with this film and actually felt safe with their unsatisfactory performances. Laurie Holden takes the worst acting prize in this one, but Radha Mitchell was a very close runner-up. Oh well, everything else about this film was great.
Overall, this is a great horror-themed video game adaptation that is not only visually stimulating but has a great story to go along with the retina orgasm you’ll receive viewing this flick. I recommend this to all horror fans and even fans of the game who will get a very nice treat when “Pyramid Head” makes his epic appearances in the film. You also WILL NOT be disappointed by the film’s climax, trust me.