DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Silent Hill

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Cameron Yee, Aug 17, 2006.

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  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    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.
     
  2. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Nice review, Cam! Thanks for covering this one. Sorry it wasn't better. [​IMG]
     
  3. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    By my count this marks my 10th review for HTF. Thanks for keeping me busy. [​IMG]
     
  4. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    Damn! Sorry to hear this movie was so bad. I was actually looking forward to this title on BD - they filmed virtually in my backyard in the middle of the night...huge lights light up the night sky and turned it to day...kept me up all night...and they had a fog machine going all night...it was hilarious...well, not about the part keeping me up all night.

    Mike
     
  5. Beast

    Beast Second Unit

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    I really don't know how I feel about this one. I liked it up until near the end. There's just one scene near the end that just totally ruins the movie for me. I'll go to spoiler tags to discuss that aspect though.

    Why the hell did they fell the need to do a cheap 'Video Game Cut Scene' to explain the plot at the end of the movie? It totally destroyed the ominous feel and flow of the movie, by having this roughly 10 minute "This is the Plot" scene to try to explain just what the heck is going on. They really should have worked harder to put the full story into the actual film, so it's revealed along the way. Instead of beating you over the head with it at the end.
     
  6. ChrisBEA

    ChrisBEA Screenwriter

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    I must say that I really enjoyed this film and gave it a 3.5/5 when I first reviewed it. Although, I am often in the minority....
     
  7. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Producer

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    Saw it in the theater and enjoyed it up to the bright light story infodump. I'm closer to your rating Chris. I'd give it a 3/5.
     
  8. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    Thanks for the review Cameron, fabulous film, can't wait, best use of CG to date. 125mins went so fast, anyone know of an upcoming extended edition?

    [​IMG] It was okay. I've seen far worse, the various CG nasties kept me awake. Dialogue = dire.
     
  9. Donnie Eldridge

    Donnie Eldridge Supporting Actor

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    Looks like this one is strictly a rental.
     
  10. Bryant Trew

    Bryant Trew Second Unit

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    I think this film is really aimed at those who playd the very best silent hill game ever, Silent Hill 2. The movie nailed all the elements of that game perfectly. I felt the same sense of dread and horror watching the film.

    Yikes!
     
  11. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Interesting to know. I have a copy of Silent Hill 3, but haven't gotten around to trying it. . .
     
  12. Chris Tedesco

    Chris Tedesco Second Unit

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    I hope you're right. I'm a big fan of the video games and if the movie is half of that, than I'm in!
     
  13. BrettGallman

    BrettGallman Screenwriter

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    That's my favorite SH game. I highly recommend it. If I recall correctly, there were aspects of that game's plot in the film as well. I could be mixing up the games though, as plot-wise, they seem to blend together in my memory. [​IMG]
     
  14. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    I have to say that the first three quarters of the film really captured the dread and horror of the first two games surprisingly well, top notch......the last half...well....put it this way, flawed or not it was better than most of hollywood's "horror" offerings of the last ten years or so & that is no small feat for a video game movie.
     
  15. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor
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    I liked it too. And the transfer is exactly as I recall seeing it in the theater.
     
  16. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Cameron, I was a little less harsh with Silent Hill myself. I gave it 2/5, but found the extensive use of contortionist, nameless, faceless demons tiresome. Damn that's been done to death. Unlike most people here (it seems) it was the first 75 minutes, which had virtually no plot, which I got tired of and thought it picked up a bit once there was some sort of point ot it all.

    I'm thinking maybe your criticism of the flat blacks is actually how it is supposed to look. It is one of those things video people always looks for (the blacks MUST be deep) but having a completely flat look to the Silent Hill scenes makes sense in the grand scheme of things. Besides, with all the effort that obviously went into the look of the movie, I have trouble imagining them screwing up that part. Of course, they also might have been "protecting" the blacks for the people with poorly adjusted TVs, which is most people.
     
  17. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

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    The first part of the film I actually liked quite a bit. It felt like a video game. While I've not played the SILENT HILL games, I have seen them reviewed, and what I've seen has appeared to be close to the film.

    But, it did REALLY fall apart at the end. It was also very similar to another film.

    (I forgot how to do spoiler tags, or I'd list which one)

    Surprised to see that it was written by Roger Avary (PULP FICTION). Although, after his last one (RULES OF ATTRACTION), maybe I shouldn't be.
     
  18. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

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    I watched 3/4 of the movie and then it turned into a "fast forward" experience, as I kept hitting that button. I played all of the games, but this movie just didn't work for me once we got past the initial "that DOES look like the game" aspect of the first half of the movie. A let down.
     
  19. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Good points all. Since I never saw the film in the theaters I can't say whether the flat blacks were intentional. We all know it's not unusual for a great looking film to get butchered in the transfer. I would be interested in seeing the Blu-Ray release for comparison, especially as I've read other reviews that cite no issues with the black levels.
     
  20. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    That's exactly the problem. When you are playing the game, things can simply happen to present you with obstacles, because you are trying to survive. A movie needs a little more of a reason and story. I mean, you know she isn't going to be defeated and the game end. In fact, that would be more interesting than what actually happened.
     

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