As much as I dearly love video games I must be honest, I am on a strict Nintendo diet. I learned to despise anything that wasn't Nintendo early on in my life, and would shut myself in the upstairs room and play Duck Hunt until my eyes got fuzzy. I went from system to system, NES, SNES, Gameboy (skipped Game Cube) N64, Nintendo DS and now Wii and yet I can't help but wonder about all those other games available to all those other systems. You see, my Nintendo diet is even more restrictive than some as I kept close to Mario and Zelda, and ignored all those.....other games involving space and aliens and war and whatever else they involved. I was once handed an Xbox controller and told to play Halo--of which I dismally failed. What were all these frickin buttons about, and why were there TWO joystick things? Sure I kicked major ass at Goldeneye, but Halo? A train wreck.
One day I stumbled across an article about the Top 13 Scariest Video Games. Oh boy, I thought to myself---I LOVE video games....but my face fell when I saw the picks. Bloody operating tables, darkened rooms and abandoned hospitals, disfigured and gross looking....people? What was this? Oh right "those other" video games. After reading through all the choices I was fixated on Silent Hill and all this talk about something called Pyramid Head and how he raped some mannequins or something. I watched a clip of the level on YouTube and was officially creeped the fuck out. It was then I remembered that Silent Hill was also a movie, one of those elusive movies based on a video game. Typically these do not go so well but I recalled hearing okay things about the Silent Hill adaptation. For some reason I'm only just getting to see it now and I must admit I was a tad apprehensive about what I would find.
Video games to movies are tricky (we all know what happened with Mortal Kombat) but for the most part I think Silent Hill does an OK job. Well, this is coming from someone who's only information on the video game comes from a Youtube clip and Wikipedia synopsis--so I guess I'm not the best authority on the matter. I'll just say that the film is very creepy, in a gross, smelly, and bloody way and we'll leave it at that.
The plot is interesting enough and involves the disappearance of Rose's daughter Sharon in the ghost town of Silent Hill. The deeper Rose gets into Silent Hill, the more she realizes that the town harbors a dark secret, clearly implemented in the utterly bizarre and terrifying world that she has landed in.
My number one complaint is that the film is as usual---too damn long. Two hours to be exact. I'm not entirely convinced this was necessary and I think a lot of it has to do with Sean Bean's character. I don't think he was that important. It's like a Julie and Julia situation where two separate stories are shown and you really only end up caring about one of them. Apparently the director's original script was completely devoid of men, and it was sent back with "There are no men!" scribbled on it. Sean Bean's character was added in due to this comment soooo in a nutshell--he doesn't need to be there. It's simply too confusing. I feel like everything we needed to know about Sharon is cleared up near the film's conclusion. If you think of the film without the scenes from the real world--everything would be fine and clear. And plus, we wouldn't have that entirely stupid and bleak ending. What's wrong with having a film with no men in it anyways?
Things also happen to very disjointed. Rose seems to move from one place to another without a clear indication of when that is happening. There isn't much traveling and I felt distanced from the whole idea of the darkness falling over everything and turning things....yucky. Typically if you are familiar with the video game this major aspect would be clear to you but for a non video gamer I feel that the two different sides of Silent Hill (and what is already a different side of Silent Hill to begin with) were kind of confusing and not explained until well into the film's running time.
My third major complaint shouldn't come as a surprise--the CGI. I get that in this instance the CGI is actually a nice compliment to the video game aspect and even at times makes it seem like it is a video game. I however found it distracting in times of critical fear inducing moments. A good example are those bug things. I really could not tell what they were until that single one crawled on Rose's leg and ended up in the room with them. I thought maybe they were rats or scorpions--the CGI muddled them all together making it nearly impossible to figure out why everyone was freaking out so badly. All of the shocking and grotesque moments involving the creatures were also sometimes hindered due to the CGI and that is a shame.
That isn't to say however that I wasn't extremely creeped out by a lot of those creatures. The janitor in the bathroom for instance was a giant WTF moment,
as were the scary nurses. I guess people in weird positions, seemingly stitched with barbed wire can be pretty hard to mess up though. I also came to love the setting and idea of it always raining ashes. In fact there is so much to be said about the atmosphere, and the completely twisted appearance of the notorious Pyramid Head but I think all of it is so similar to the video game that I should really be handing out high fives to those creators. Still though, taking a video game and applying it to film form cannot be easy. With some editing I think the film could have been more successful for those that had not ever played the video game. It's a fine film and one that kept me genuinely entertained despite its two hour death sentence, I just wish I knew more about the game.
While Silent Hill was still completely entertaining, wonderfully bloody and creepy in all the right places--I mostly felt by its end that what I really need to do was go play the video game. So I pledge to you all that I will at some point play this game (most likely the Wii designed one) and then report back on it. I will also be playing it with the lights on and clutching my stuffed dog named Spot and no one better give me a hard time.
The number one moment is Pyramid Head raping mannequins...go figure.