XenForo Template Silent Hill Release Date: August 22, 2006 Studio: Sony Pictures Year: 2006 Rating: R for strong horror violence and gore, disturbing images, and some language Running Time: 2h05m Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic (featurettes 1.78:1 anamorphic) Audio: English DD5.1 (featurettes DD2.0) Subtitles: English TV-Generated Closed Captions: English Menus: Animated without transitions Packaging/Materials: Single disc keepcase MSRP: $28.95 The Feature: 1/5 In 2001 French director Christophe Gans turned heads on both sides of the Atlantic with "Brotherhood of the Wolf," a sometimes puzzling but compelling piece of entertainment that borrowed liberally from film genres including but not limited to: French period costume drama, martial arts, werewolf horror, police procedural, mystery, and conspiracy-thriller. With "Silent Hill" he just sticks to one genre – horror film inspired by video game – but fails to shake its negative reputation. The film's clichéd Japanese horror elements are forgivable given the source material – disturbed little girls, parallel "hell" dimensions and contorted, zombie-like creatures are par for the course with this type of thing. What ultimately vexes is an overlong, style-over-substance first half followed by expositional scenes devoid of sense, even by the loose standards of Japanese horror and video games. In video games there's not much time to dwell on the confusion with doom nipping at one's heels and an ending to reach. But for a film to follow a similar narrative course, stripped of the interactive challenges, it's hard not to question plot details and character motivations. After enough "Why did he/she/it do that?" questions it becomes clear it's all about the needs of the plot. For example, the story needs concerned mother Rose (Radha Mitchell) and troubled daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) to wind up stuck in the abandoned coal mining town of Silent Hill, source of Sharon's night terrors. So first Rose takes off with Sharon in the family SUV, with nary a word to husband Christopher (Sean Bean), and then for no apparent reason speeds away from a local police officer Cybil (Laurie Holden) with a recklessness that physically endangers the very child she wants to help. And wouldn't you know it, she drives like a maniac toward Silent Hill, where she gets in an accident. Once Rose wakes from her plot-driven lapse in judgment to find Sharon missing, the town's aural and visual terrors get put on full display as she searches for her. But there are only so many faceless zombie creatures, pyramid-helmeted giants with one-handed flaying abilities, and Rose reaction shots one can take (almost an hour's worth) before some kind of explanation is needed. Once it begins it's a doozy of a head scratcher, even in the way it's presented like an 8mm home movie in Rose's brain. From there the film tidily abandons the earlier stylistic weirdness for point blank gore. This in turn is followed by an ending so nonsensical one can only accuse the filmmakers of trying too hard to be clever. Ultimately it's hard to decide which half of the film is better – a choice between the lesser of two evils if there ever was one. The answer is actually "C" - neither. Those interested in the "Silent Hill" franchise are better off playing through the video games, which are, from what I've heard, far and away a better experience. Video Quality: 2.5/5 The most obvious problem with the video transfer is poor black levels, which is hard to miss given the amount of time characters spend in dark hallways and rooms. The scenes in Silent Hill are simply murky, suggesting either a flattened or clipped contrast range. The black level problem is less noticeable in the daytime scenes, which are all deeply color saturated to further emphasize the difference between the real world and the desaturated, almost monochromatic Silent Hill. The daytime scenes also have a "glassy" appearance to them, similar to some scenes on the "Mr. And Mrs. Smith" DVD (the only release I can think of to have this same quality). Though I detected no edge enhancement, the picture could have stood to be a bit sharper, with the glassiness sometimes affecting the general clarity of a scene. Overall the picture appeared free of dirt, dust and print damage. Audio Quality: 3.5/5 The first half of the film, with its focus on the strange environment and creatures inhabiting Silent Hill, has an aggressive audio mix with some significant LFE and interesting panning and sound effects across the soundstage. When the film reaches the second half, which is predominantly exposition, the mix becomes pretty conventional. This is not necessarily meant as a criticism – the change in the audio mix merely supports the tidy narrative shift in the film. Dialogue is consistently clear and intelligible throughout the film and the sometimes light and pensive film score comes across quite nicely. Special Features: 3/5 Path of Darkness: Making "Silent Hill" documentary: Straightforward and largely promotional series of featurettes with a combined run time of almost an hour. Overall there's nothing too insightful, though there is plenty of behind-the-scenes footage if one is interested in that type of thing. The documentary chapters focus on: Origins (8m34s): Gans explains how he became inspired by playing the "Silent Hill" video game and acquired the film rights. Casting (9m52s): The stars talk about their characters and working with each other. Set Design (10m01s): Cast and crew describe and comment on the film sets. Stars and Stunts (7m31s): Stunt Coordinator Steve Lucescu, Mitchell and Holden comment on the stunts they performed. Creatures Unleashed (12m09s): A look at the film's major monsters. Probably the most interesting of the featurettes, but then I've always been keen on creature effects. Creature Choreography (11m12s): A natural progression from the previous chapter, the featurette looks at the creepy and stylized movements that make the monsters come to life, all choreographed by Roberto Campanella. Previews: Ghost Rider Casino Royale Basic Instinct 2 The Benchwarmers Underworld: Evolution DVD Ultraviolet DVD Hollow Man 2 DVD Population 436 The Woods The Boondocks DVD Quinceanera The Fog Recap and Final Thoughts The Feature: 1/5 Video Quality: 2.5/5 Audio Quality: 3.5/5 Special Features: 3/5 Overall Score (not an average): 2/5 "Silent Hill" does nothing to reduce the negative reputation of films based on video games. A mediocre video transfer and average special features make it a difficult DVD to recommend even for those who enjoyed the film. Equipment: Toshiba 42" CRT RPTV fed a 1080i signal from an Oppo DV-971 DVD player. Audio evaluation is based on an Onkyo TX-SR575x 5.1 AVR running JBL S26 mains and surrounds, JBL S-Center, and SVS 20-39 PCi subwoofer.