Silent Hill (2006) Review: Beautifully Creepy but Unsatisfying
“Some towns should never be entered”
Synopsis: A woman, Rose, goes in search for her adopted daughter within the confines of a strange, desolate town called Silent Hill.
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Ludwig von Stroodle:
Silent Hill is a surreal tour through the famous video game franchise’s namesake town. The ever-present ashen snowfall, heavy fog, and deserted buildings combine to create a beautifully somber and creepy setting. If it were a real place, I’d probably build my castle there.
The film takes its time, slowly leading you through places and encounters featured in the games. The creators do a fantastic job in bringing some of them to a live action movie. Unfortunately, they don’t succeed quite so well when it comes to the plot. Once the characters arrive in town, there’s basically no exposition until just before the climax – just a series of creepy encounters linked together by bizarre leaps of logic. For example, Rose (Radha Mitchell) finds a broken shard of something with the hotel’s logo on it stuffed in the mouth of a mutilated corpse and immediately concludes that her daughter must be in the hotel. Huh?
Instead of having characters piecing out clues to the town’s mystery throughout the movie, Silent Hill pretty much just dumps it on you all at once through a weird film reel and voice over scene. The acting wasn’t anything special; the lady cop (Laurie Holden) could pass for a Terminator for most of the movie, and her entire character was largely unnecessary. Still, the effects are decent and hold up very well.
Despite the drawbacks, I feel like I enjoyed the movie much more than I should have. (Maybe it’s just nostalgia for a video game that creeped me out as a kid.) While parts of the film are lackluster, the creators really nail the atmosphere of Silent Hill and that alone was worth watching.
Ludwig von Stroodle’s Rating: B
Movies based on video games are pretty hit or miss – usually miss. On the better end of the scale, you have fairly polished flicks like Resident Evil, but most fall short of actually being good.
Silent Hill is unusual in that the cinematography, set, and many effects are not only well done, but also manage to stand out in the fairly crowded horror genre. The ambiance they create is perfect for the slow, creepy burn of the mystery behind the ghost town. While the movie is graphic, it’s not always convincingly so – there are definitely moments when the special effects and CGI falter. Still, when they’re good they’re good, and they manage to maintain a very unsettling atmosphere throughout the movie. It’s clear that a lot of time and effort went into replicating the feel of the game – and in fact, the score is actually made up of game music, which I loved.
But despite all that effort, Silent Hill has a major problem: the story feels like an afterthought. It’s as though creators were so focused on replicating cool parts of the games that they left the plot till the last minute and then half-assed it. For starters, Sean Bean‘s side of the story is almost completely pointless. And if you don’t count running from the monsters, no one really reacts in sensible a sensible way for the entire movie. The main character, Rose, makes questionable choices throughout, and then has logical leaps that are utterly inexplicable. Add in that the writers went the lazy route and had her verbalize most of her thoughts, and things start to get cringe-worthy.
Silent Hill could have been good with a better writer. Still, it’s an interesting watch, as long as you’re not squeamish.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: B-
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