When it comes to movies based on video games, let’s face it… things just usually don’t work out that well. However good or bad the game originally was, movies based on video games prefer to stick with the safest and seemingly most formulaic methods of storytelling (i.e. good guy must bring down ultimate bad boss, often including a lot of gun-slinging and general ass-kicking to get to the final fight). I’m not a big video-gamer, but if this movie is anything close to what the game is like, I’m willing to bet that I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night after playing for the first twenty minutes or so.
The basic premise of the story has to do with the heroine, Rose Da Silva (Radha Mitchell) and her daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) whose sleep-walking nightmares about a place called Silent Hill reach such a critical state that Rose decides to take her to the small abandoned mining town to face her fears. From here, things just get crazy. Sharon runs off and gets lost, and the rest of the movie essentially follows Rose’s attempt to recover her. The town shifts periodically from normal and creepy to satanic and insane whenever an emergency siren goes off. The back-story to Sharon’s duality is hazy at best, but the basic idea is that the young girl who was once Alessa was harassed, alienated, targeted as an embodiment of sin because she was born out of wedlock, and eventually mutilated by the Puritan-like members of her town, led by the insane witch-hunter Christabella. What good that is left of Alessa somehow manifests itself in the form of Sharon. Predictably, the film tries to include some kind of “Heaven vs. Hell,” anti-psychotic-organized-religion theme. All of this eventually leads to Alessa reaping some gruesome revenge on the nut-jobs that tortured her. As I’m sure is true for the video game, the movie doesn’t dwell much on explaining things clearly in terms of back-story, but what it lacks in definitive plot points, it makes up for in outright DISTURBING-ASS IMAGES.
Let’s talk about some of the creatures that this movie has. I give my sincerest praise to the arts/creatures department for this film/game, because some of the things that Rose runs into are seriously freaky! From a stumbling, half-rotted naked human carcass that spits out some crazy black ink-like substance to the tortured and tied-up-with-barbed-wire-rotting-non-human-demon-thing in the elementary school’s bathroom (presumed to be the former “Colin” who probably raped the young Alessa), pretty much every kind of terrifying and disgustingly demonic character they could come up with is used in this film, and yes, some are certainly scarier than others. Just thinking about that bathroom scene gives me the creeps… Once the town turns to its “dark side,” the hog-tied creature wakes up and pulls itself along the bathroom floor, trying to attack Rose while the barbed wire cuts into its flesh and its black tongue drips with horrifying anticipation. EEEEEE!!!!
Of course, I can’t leave out the film’s most famous, and intensely suspenseful scene in which Rose has to quietly bypass a group of bagheaded, twisted nurses on her way through the hospital ward as she tries to get to Alessa/Sharon. A mass of live nurse corpses+the audience’s knowledge that light or movement causes them to freak out and attack=EEEEEEEEE!!!
The other image that will forever be seared into my memory when I think of this film is when Rose and her police officer friend are running into the town church (the only safe-haven when the town shifts to its nightmare state). As the siren is blaring, one of the women doesn’t make it inside in time, only to have ALL OF HER SKIN PULLED OFF in one disgusting rip by a executioner-like demon with a crazy iron helmet known as “Pyramid Head” that catches her as she’s running up the church steps.*
*I think it’s more than fair to mention that when I was looking for pictures from this movie to include in my review, I got too freaked out and decided to leave them out altogether.
Another thing that was really well-done in this movie in terms of amping up the creepy level was its musical score. Much of the music, written and performed by Akira Yamaoka was also used in the video game, much to fans’ delight and my terror. Even with its scary creatures, I don’t think this film would’ve been quite as hauntingly memorable without those melancholic melodies to back it up.
So, creators of Silent Hill, if your goal was to have terrifying creatures, great music, a relatively confusing storyline, and to give me some serious goosebumps…goal achieved! I will never, ever be able to play this video game!