Thursday, September 9, 2010

Silent Hill: A Collection of All The Creepiest Settings in the World

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.


Forestaken said...

The Silent Hill movie is basically Silent Hill 2 for PS2. All the music on the movie is taken from Akira Yamaoka's original game score. The Wii version of the game has NOTHING to do with the silent hill legacy and history. In fact, it totally messes up the history of the original character Harry Mason from Silent Hill 1 for the PS1. The Wii version is not even made by Konami (or the original Japanese Konami, at least, from what I understand). There is almost no game play. You walk around and snap pics of ghostly images that have nothing to do with anything. You pick up hidden items that you do nothing with and you run from the ghosts. There is no fighting creatures at all. It is horrible and should not even be made. My 12 year old daughter finished the game last year in one weekend. She is the real Silent Hill buff. I would suggest playing Silent Hill 2 (old school ps2 graphics but creepy and very atmospheric with a good, scary story) or even Silent Hill 4 The Room on ps2 or computer. But I would not even bother with the Wii one. It should not have even been made.

Andre Dumas said...

Yikes. Well since I am not a playstation person, or feel like buying one just to play one game, the Wii version is the only thing available, sorry! I don't think I'll be too upset, since I don't have any real attachment to the original story or anything. So no worries!

Rabid Fox said...

I never played those horror survival games much when I was heavy into gaming. Though, there was one called Fatal Frame that creeped me right the f--k out.

As for Silent Hill, I thought the movie was alright, but it's fair to say that it was more horrific eye candy than a cohesive tale.

Unknown said...

Being a Silent Hill fanatic it's nice to see a non-SH fan appreciate some aspects of the film...I guess that was the intention in the first place. I love the movie (I know a lot of longtime fans hate it but I'm not one of them) and would go as far as saying that it's the best video game to film adaptation made to far.
I wouldn't discourage you from trying Silent Hill: Shattered Memories on the Wii. I borrowed my friend's Wii and bought the game (I said I was a fanatic) so I could play it on that system (since that was the lead platform for it) and it's ok. I haven't finished mainly due to my frustrations with using the waggle controls during the "Nightmare" sequences but the exploration sequences are pretty cool. But honestly this game is completely different from the original and doesn't live up to it. If you are really interested in knowing more about Silent Hill games I would suggest asking any friends or family if they still have a PS2 and borrowing it and renting the first or second games. They really are something special to experience.

Andre Dumas said...

Thanks Tanya! After watching all these Youtube videos of the silent hill series, Im starting to think I would just be freaking out the whole time. I'm a scaredy-cat when it comes to experiencing fear for myself (as opposed to watching characters in a movie). Maybe one day I'll get to play them but for now I'm the only person I know in my circle of family and friends who really likes video games. Also no one I know even has a playstation. I am sort of glad.

CashBailey said...

This movie was such a let-down for me. I love most of the SILENT HILL games and I think this had the potential to be amazing. Alas the script was utter garbage, and as you said it was too long and muddled and Sean Bean was completely useless.
Maybe they'll make another one some day and get it right.

Fred [The Wolf] said...

While I do think the games are better, I do dig SILENT HILL quite a bit. It's definitely one of the better video game-to-film adaptations out there. I still think MORTAL KOMBAT rules them all though. Nice to see someone praising this film instead of trashing it.

Alex Berry said...

Whoa whoa whoa. Do NOT be discouraged from playing Shattered Memories. It is a quality game. It does not "mess up" the history of the first game, it's just a reimagining of the first game's general scenario. It's not scary, but it plays with you in really innovative ways, and frankly, its plot is better than average for the series.

And Silent Hill the movie is predominantly based on Silent Hill 1, not Silent Hill 2. But if you're going to play only one Silent Hill game, make sure it's the second game. It's not necessarily the scariest (I'd go with 3 on that one), but it is by far the most emotionally affecting and creepiest. If you look online, you can get 2, 3 and 4 on the PC (if you don't have a Mac).

Chris Regan said...

I like the film but agree it's flawed. Shame as they definitely get the atmopshere right. I heard a rumour that the Sean Bean character was added later on the insistence of the studio who refused to release the film without a male protagonist. I'm not sure if that's true or not and I generally like Sean Bean, but in this case I think the removal of that whole subplot would definitely have been an improvement.

Andre Dumas said...

Thanks Alex, I have had your same advice reinforced to me, so don't worry I will still be playing the Wii version at some point! Unfortunately I do have a Mac, so it looks like no SH2 for me...!

Chris- that is true about Sean Bean's character, I talked about that in my review actually :P

Chris Regan said...

Sorry, you totally did - missed that part!

Andre Dumas said...

Haha no worries!

Marissafarrar said...

Well I am a huge horror movie fan, but hate video games and I absolutely loved Silent Hill. In fact, it falls into my top ten horror movies! Maybe it is because I am clueless about the video game aspect that it opens up some different dimensions to me. I loved the soundtrack in it and think it has a totally creepy atmosphere through out. And some of the 'creatures' are brilliant.

Alex Berry said...

Hey Andre, I don't normally recommend other websites on someone else's blog, but I'll make an exception here. If you're interested in getting the Silent Hill experience without actually playing, a web reviewer named Dena made a VERY nice short series of videos about Silent Hills 1 through 3. I'd at least recommend watching the one on Silent Hill 2:

It's part synopsis, part thematical analysis. She's a true fan of the series and definitely gets it.

Andre Dumas said...

Thanks Alex! I'll be sure to check that out

BRENT said...

For all its reputation I thought this movie was utter crap! Talk about confusing, and worse even still is it isn't even scary! I hesitate to even call this a horror.
It is nothing but a jumbled mess that doesn't know if it is horror or fantasy.

Spooky Sean said...

Scariest video games I've played

1.Doom 3
2.Clive Barker's Undying (computer game from 90's, as with Silent Hill graphics don't hold up.)
3.Silent Hill(s)
4.Quake (first one)

I have a lot of other games I like, but these are the only ones that scare me, I've been able to play. I suck at video games, so all the new stuff I can't get past one level on.
I tried to play Doom 64; I mean, I played it for a month. But, was too hard to see on my TV, and for some reason the visual settings wouldn't stay right.
I'm excited for that new ID software game Rage. I am a loyal ID fanboy. They clearly love monsters, and creeping people out, as do I.