Silent Hill - quick review

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Simon Massey, Apr 21, 2006.

  1. Simon Massey

    Simon Massey Cinematographer
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    Just got back from watching Silent Hill. I was looking forward to this, mainly because of the involvement of Christophe Gans who directed Brotherhood of the Wolf a few years ago.

    Well, I would say it is probably the best video game adaptation but thats not saying much really. Was expecting much better given who was involved. It was a pretty typical studio video game adaptation which occasionally rose above the levels of mediocrity to produce some interesting moments.

    The first part is fairly effective (lots of skewed camerawork and aerial shots which I thought made it much more interesting) and the shift from one reality to another is really well done. The film captures the tone of the game pretty well, and, although its a long time since I played the game and I can't say how faithful it is to the background of the game, there are a lot of moments that I recognise from the game.

    Problems come really with the poor and excessive use of CGI for some of the creatures and backgrounds. Much creepier when the film simply relies on the atmosphere but once the monsters start showing up, the CGI takes all that creepiness away.

    The film also starts to take on a feeling of playing the greatest hits of the game instead of trying to pull together a coherent story. So of course, we have to visit the garage, then the warehouse, then the school, then the hotel, then the church, then the hospital, and so on.

    The second half of the film is taken up by explanations of what is going on. Although the background story is pretty horrible in terms of what happened, the way in which it is revealed in the film is poor - the film literally just stops whilst one character tells you what the hell is going on and then it just carried on again. This was a shame as the bits of the story had gradually been revealed up to this point through other scenes and a secondary story outside the main plot would have been a much better way of telling the audience what was going on. And there is some really cheesy acting moments in the final sequence. And of course, all films of this kind seem to have to have a sort of twist at the end, which is pretty pointless and adds nothing at all to the film.

    Disappointing but would give it 5 out of 10 for occasional effective moments.
     
  2. Colton

    Colton Supporting Actor

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    Shit! You just talked me out of seeing it this weekend. Guess I'll take my wife to see Scary Movie 4 instead.

    - Colton
     
  3. Jimi C

    Jimi C Screenwriter

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    This was easily the worst movie I have ever had the pleasure of watching in the theater. The visuals were the only thing that kept me in my seat. However, those were very repetitive. Perhaps this film was created with the assumption that everyone who sees it had played the video game, for somebody like me who hasnt, it was the most uncoherent story line ever. Even when they attempted to tell you what had just occured via a 5 minute montage/narrative towords the end of the film, my friends and I were still perplexed.

    Was it a dream? Are the dead? Are they in a parallell universe? If there was a fire why is it that all the buildings are still intact? How can a 30 year old flashlight with 30 year old batteries still be working after an hour? I could go on..

    This movie was so far fetched that it became humerous. People were laughing out loud at what was supposed to be serious dialogue. That is an especially bad thing considering how little dialogue there actually is in this film. I would complain more but I dont want to spoil all the funny for those of you still considering paying to see this flick. If you lower your expectations you may enjoy it, but based on the trailer I was expecting to have my pants scared off.
     
  4. Beast

    Beast Second Unit

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    Gotta agree with Jimi C. Having never played the game, I was just totally lost and confused, even after the 5-minute 'This is the plot' scene at the end of the film. Especially by the ending, which just made me scratch my head more. The visuals were about the only thing quasi-good about the picture, and then most of them are hidden in darkness or such quick flashes that you don't even see half of what's supposed to be horrifying. While in some films that works for atmosphere, here it just ended up annoying me rather quickly.
     
  5. Romier S

    Romier S Producer

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    Well, I just got back from Silent Hill. After months and months of anticipation, I get to sit for two hours in a theater sweating my ass off with a sold out crowd (and yes it was sold out). Fun.[​IMG]

    The first hour or so of the film is just absolutely150% percent Silent Hill. If you have played any one of the games in this series you will have every possible button pressed by what Gans and his very talented crew pulled of here. The change from fog to darkness is handled with superb technique. The film simply looks wonderful and exactly how you would want/expect a film based on Silent Hill to look. The audio is orgasmic. Fans of the games will go into a frenzy when they hear Yamaoka's music. There is just a slavish, and I do mean SLAVISH devotion to capturing, maintaining, and bringing to life the atmosphere and world of Silent Hill. In that regard, it's a true success in every sense of the word in my opinion.

    The creatures are brought to life with utter perfection. I swear the appearance of each new creature is almost like a reward for the viewer. The first time one of the gray children appears to Rose it got an audible gasp from the audience and gave me a good jump. The Janitor is a putrid creation and the yells it omits while Rose scrambles to get away were unnerving as all hell. I'm sure we're all familiar with the token "Needs more cowbell!" joke from the good comedians on SNL, but good lord this film "Needs more Pyramid Head!” On one hand I'm glad they did not overuse him. On the other hand, he is so perfectly realized that I was disappointed I didn't see him more. Let's just say that when he does show up, he makes his presence known (and felt).

    Fans of the game that expected the film to be full of townsfolk alongside Rose will be pleased to find that to be completely untrue. I do believe that general audiences out there will lose patience with the first half of the movie as it entirely involves Rose exploring the town and following consecutive clues to Sharon and Alessa's location. There are long stretches of silence and almost no exposition. It's absolutely what I wanted from this film and I was ecstatic to see the exploration elements onscreen and alive.

    Where things start to become problematic for me though are in some of the dialogue and script choices. There are some genuinely bad lines of dialogue that just slap you completely out of the movie. It’s just very amateurish stuff such as Rose making comments like "There must have been a fire here" in a town where ash falls from the sky. No shit Rose.[​IMG] There are a few other bits that bothered me, but I think you'll understand my meaning if you've seen the film.

    I've seen some criticism of the Sean Bean/Christopher side of the film. Along with how it's unnecessary and detracts from the main storyline. I disagree to an extent as Rose provides the emotional "anchor" that Bean needs to push on and uncover what is so special about his daughter and why his wife has disappeared. It also ties in heavily to the sublime ending. Bean doesn't have a lot of material to work with here, but he does a decent job of it. He should have just dropped the American accent though. It goes in and out regularly and I just kept saying to myself "Just be the Bean Sean".[​IMG] There is some lost opportunity with the character of Christopher though and that's something I'll touch on a bit later as I discuss the very exposition heavy second half of the film.

    On the subject of performances, Radha completely carries this film on her shoulders. She does a damn fine job of it too. She's sympathetic, you know she loves her daughter, and she really does a fantastic of job reacting realistically to the absolute crazy shit going on around her. Laurie Holden gives a good performance as Cybil. I do wish her character had been given time to develop though. As is, she is simply a companion for Rose and someone that wants to help her out of sheer kindness. Doesthe film need to spell it out is the better question? Don't play any of the first two games if that's the case because they deal very heavily in ambiguity and allowing the player to draw thier own conclusions. The film ends on much the same note. Whether they have died or gone over to a parrallell universe is inconsequential. What is clear is that Rose and Sharon are lost to Christopher. The film allows you to interpret that as you will.
     
  6. Greg_S_H

    Greg_S_H Executive Producer

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    It doesn't particularly matter to me since I have no plans to ever see this film, but that seems to be a pretty spoiler-heavy review. Review threads are supposed to be spoiler-free or with spoilerized text, so you might consider covering some of that up.
     
  7. Romier S

    Romier S Producer

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    Fair enough, but considering the old Discussion/Review format seems to be used only in particular instances anymore and Jimi pretty much reveals the ending with the questions that he asks, I didn't think there would be a problem in discussing certain points. Regardless, I've added spoilers.
     
  8. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    I mostly agree with Romier. The first half of this film is absolutely sublime and creepy as all heck. I've never played the game, and frankly I could care less how faithful they are to a freakin' video game, so let's get this out right now -
    "Pyramid Head" (is that really it's name?) should have been used MUCH more, and should have been the villain and part of the climax. The end was a terrible let down, and the 'end' was far from innovative or cool. No matter how you want to interpret it.

    I think I would have cut Bean out completely and focused on spreading the exposition around with the clues rather than dumping it all out at once. Bad move.

    First half awesome, end not so good...overall? It's worth it just for some of the visuals and the first half.
     
  9. Romier S

    Romier S Producer

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  10. Alex F

    Alex F Stunt Coordinator

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    The ending, along with Sean Bean's story really make room for a sequel concentrating on his character. Expect the next film to open with Sean washing his face in a gas station restroom... and most likely carrying a letter or a voice mail from his wife telling him to come visit her in Silent Hill. *wink wink*

    I could feel the filmmaker's love for the source material in every single frame of this film. It was perfectly realized. The cinematography, sound effects, and my lord the MUSIC were all absolutely perfect. Also amazing was the way they were able to find the perfect synergy between gaming and film, little winks to the "player" ('this item is no longer needed, drop it?'... also the maps and camera angles lifted directly out of the game added to the atmosphere).

    Here's hoping for Silent Hill 2.
     
  11. Amy Mormino

    Amy Mormino Supporting Actor

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    I'm really mystified by the negative reaction from many critics and apparently a lot of audience members to this film. I can understand the mixed reaction from some of the past reviews, but I don't get why some folks found the plot impossible to understand.

    The movie had its flaws, but (having never played the game) I really liked the story and the fact that a horror/game movie took a few risks. It will probably be number one this weekend based on Friday's figures, so maybe there will be a sequel.
     
  12. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    We got there a half-hour prior and the line was out the door. Totally packed house, both the stadium seats and the bottom seats.
     
  13. Romier S

    Romier S Producer

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    Sold out crowd at my showing as well. In fact, tickets were sold out about 45 minutes before the film started.

    Also, I'm getting really tired of using spoilers here. Could we possibly have a mod split off some of the ongoing discussion here to another thead?
     
  14. Brett_M

    Brett_M Screenwriter

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    Great fist half, dull second half. This film is all style and no substance. There were a lot of missed opportunitues, most of which have already been mentioned. More Pyramid Head, more discovery by the husband rather than a ten minute home movie session. The script was a mess.

    I went in hoping to be scared a lot and came away with a few chills. A weak film overall, imo. Rent the Unrated version in a few months.
     
  15. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Can't say I enjoyed this film all that much, it was about 40 minutes too long, and featured far too much running around by Rose and Cybil (Radha Mitchell and Laurie Holden) interspersed with the male subplot (Chris and the cop), and a lackluster story surrounding the history of Silent Hill and its occupants.

    I give it 1.5 stars, or a grade of D+.
     
  16. Robert Anthony

    Robert Anthony Producer

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    The movie is sort of like a dimly mischevious junior high kid. Just smart enough to come up with highly creative ways to be a total asshole--not smart enough to get away with it at all. This is a movie that seems to exist SOLELY to punch you in the face with some truly nightmarish imagery, and doesn't bother to actually EARN the imagery at all. So you end up in the same situation, that an interrogation subject would find themselves in. There's a bright light. There's some stupid patter. And then you get the shit kicked out of you, your senses are assaulted, noise, vision, pain--and then the bright light again. And buzzing stupidity. And then it repeats every 15 minutes until they let you go.

    This is that movie. And the imagery really IS truly nightmarish. living barbwire like medusa's head times 10. Freakish faceless wind up corpse nurses, stumbling and stuttering like cracked out stop motion with a knife. an 8 year old being burned alive. A face bubbling, crackling, and finally peeling and floating away as the raw pink skin underneath catches fire.

    And none of these moments are earned. they're just unleashed. What's interesting about the film is the way it still manages to be a video game adaptation through it all. Silent Hill is a survival horror game with a big emphasis on puzzles. The same thing here. Except the puzzle is typically held to "Survive something. Inexplicably pick up something. Jump to a conclusion. Survive something. repeat." It's a video game movie where you seriously feel like you're watching someone go on a speed run through the game. Down to platforming action at one point, and cutscenes. I'm not joking. At one point the movie, after going through a couple "levels" while Sean Bean exists solely for expositions sake, the audience is greeted with a white screen and the word "Congratulations" -- and then a 5-10 minute CUTSCENE plays.

    Sean Bean is utterly wasted. Radha Mitchell lapses into total mediocrity for about a 20 minute period halfway through. It's like she gave up on it while filming, and I can understand why, considering the dialog she has to spit out ("Looks like there's been a fire.." is uttered by her, 40 minutes into the movie after we've been told about 20 times that Silent Hill burned in a coal fire) and the total deviations from her character needed to advance the plot. Alice Krige is automatically creepy, so she handles her part well. It's beautifully shot and nicely edited, although the movie seems to start feeling too long at the 2/3rds mark. The production design milks the creep factor for all it's worth, and the FX is a little shoddy at times, but used stylishly enough that you forgive it almost instantly.

    But I almost have to give Gans and Avary credit for presenting audiences with something that was touted as a Video Game adaptation, sold as a sort of freakout a-la "The Cell" and instead birthed an Argento-esque series of nightmarish set pieces designed to make you feel like an asshole for continuing to watch it. I can almost imagine them giggling as the "movie fans" there who oohed and aahed at the Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift trailer get hit between the eyeballs with a horde of screaming, burning toddlers out of nowhere.

    Quite the nasty little trick they've played. As my girl and I left the theater, we saw a few people not knowing how to register what they saw. Most left confused and a little dazed. Some wrote it off early simply BECAUSE they knew it was a video game, and nitpicked the shit out of the film almost out of spite. Others seemed happy that there was some wildly disturbing shit shoved into the film. But no one seemed altogether impressed by what they saw. The films a little too uneven for that.
     
  17. BridgetJZ

    BridgetJZ Second Unit

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    While the movie had its quirks and flaws, I think that Silent Hill was definately one of the better video game adaptations that we've seen in quite some time.

    I'm not too familiar with the game, but I could definately draws coorelations while I was watching.
     
  18. RoyM

    RoyM Stunt Coordinator

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    Let me clear that one up for you, Amy. The reason is that so many filmgoers are basically stupid, and don't understand ANYTHING in a film, unless it's spelled out in plain A-B-C.

    It was not a flawless film, by any means (even for those of us who are fans of the game), but it was not confusing or hard to follow whatsoever either. In fact, I think the complaints about the exposition being laid out too plainly or awkwardly are a much more justified criticism.

    I can accept some of the critical jibes about the film being too long, or the story structure being flawed. I think those are legitimate gripes. There were aspects of the CGI effects that were unconvincing and a bit cliched. Frankly, I think many of the flaws of the movie could be chalked up to the producers trying to appeal to the mainstream audience, rather than the a more select, esoteric fanbase. I think if it had stayed even truer to its source and pandered a little less, it may well have have been a true horror classic.

    I will say the audience with which I saw it seemed to be genuinely transfixed through most of the film, and I didn't hear any laughter, derisive or otherwise. Frankly, I think SH will come to be respected as a cult classic of sorts over the years, and like most cult classics, is largely undervalued upon initial release simply because mainstream audiences aren't on the same wavelength as what the filmmaker is trying to accomplish.

    Hopefully, people who haven't seen it yet won't just write it off as another dumb, bad CGI-ridden, "video game" movie, because in spite of its flaws, it aims for (and mostly hits) another better/higher level than that.
     
  19. Beast

    Beast Second Unit

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    And that's where myself and everyone else stopped reading your comment.
     
  20. Robert Anthony

    Robert Anthony Producer

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    Is it just me or is this thread now starting with the 2nd half of my review and just going from there? There were like 12 reviews that preceded mine, and a pretty good discussion between Adam Lenhardt and Romier S about the film.
     

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