I will tell you right now, this review has been, for a lack of a better term, cursed for me. Way back when, before I initially deleted the blog (and before realizing how much of a mistake that was), this was the review that I was working on. After reviving the blog, and after writing about the game, I started the review of the movie with intent of creating a small series of blogs focusing on the game-to-big-screen aspects. It obviously never got finished. For some reason, I just find this movie to be very difficult to review. Not that it was bad, quite the opposite in fact, this movie was fantastic.
I'm not quite sure why I found this review hard. It's possible that it was because in many ways, it's very faithful to the game it's based off of. It's also possible that it was because of the changes that were made, as well. I was fine with many of the changes, but I just found it hard to go in depth of those changes without turning it into another game review or even a "Nostalgia Critic Old vs. New" type of review (Oh God, I can't believe I actually referenced that guy, ugh. I won't do that again). I wanted to give the film a legitimate review based off it's own merits.
But now, after months and months, I'm going to just write it and let the review play out however it plays out. I'll be happy to finally get it out, and please go easy on me on this one, I present Silent Hill.
Coming out in 2006 (wow, I hadn't realized that it came out that long ago until I started writing this, and I actually saw it in the theater), this film was directed by Christophe Gans, written by Pulp Fiction co-writer Roger Avery (and no, I have no intentions of reviewing Pulp Fiction), and starring Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Jodelle Ferland, Kim Coates, Alice Krige and Laurie Holden.
The story is loosely based off the first game (hence why I chose that game in particular, all those months ago). Being rather faithful to the game, the story doesn't completely rip it off either. You won't think you're watching someones play through, all the while you will recognize many aspects if you played it.
The main difference is the role of the parent.Instead of the father, Harry Mason, looking for his lost daughter Cheryl after passing through the town of Silent Hill; it is the mother, Rose Da Silva (Mitchell) looking for her daughter, Sharon (Ferland), after taking her to Silent Hill after Sharon repeatedly having dreams of the town.
The husband, Chris Da Silva (Bean), still plays a role here. While not
the central character of the film, he still plays an important part as
he finds that Sharon, whom of which was adopted as a baby, came from mysterious
Other than that, and one major plot point, the story is more or less the same as the first game in the series.
The main thing that initially bothered me (but I later learned to accept and liked) is the major plot point they changed. The following, as usual, contains SPOILERS.
In my game review, I stated that seven years prior to the main story, Dahlia Gillespie had a daughter named Alessa, who had the powers of a god. When Alessa refused to help her mother birth the god of the local cult, Sameal, Dahlia tried to have Alessa killed in a house fire that ended up decimating much of the town. While Alessa survived, she was in pain from her wounds, and Dahlia used this to once again try and force the birth of Sameal while keeping her locked away in the basement of the local hospital.
Because of this, Alessa split her self into two forms, a physical form that eventually gets adopted by the main character Harry Mason and named Cheryl, and another stuck in a horrific nightmare type realm that retains the full identity of Alessa.
Well, the fact that Alessa having the powers of a god and splitting herself into two is still intact here, but the reason of her burining is completely different. In the film, Alessa was killed against her mothers will by witch burning puritans. They thought of Alessa as evil since she had such a gift, and wanted to cleanse the world of what they thought would happen if she lived.
And much like the game, Alessa survives the attempted witch burning, and is kept in the basement of the hospital, left in the care of a nurse in a red sweater (many fans of the game know who this is). The plot then plays out much like the game from there.
END OF SPOILERS
In Silent Hill Revelations, however, they actually went in and made some additions to the story in order to make it a little more in line with the plot of the games, without actually destroying the credibility of plot of the first film. But I'll get to how Revelations did this in my review of that film.
I will admit that one thing that I enjoyed was the inclusion of many of the little things in the series. Such things like a police officer appearing on screen who was only mentioned in easily overlooked note in the game, to the inclusion of certain camera angles that were also present in the original Silent Hill (the best example being when Rose walks down an alleyway, and turns a corner, the camera sits in a top corner of the buildings closely following her movements).
Also another interesting thing I found was that the majority of the music is taken directly from the games, with maybe one slight remix and a Johnny Cash song. Instead of being an entirely new soundtrack with a different composer, the music is Akira Yamaoka's moody atmosphere educing sounds from the game and I found myself picking out the individual pieces as the film went on.
I was even impressed with the acting. For a cast that is made up of mostly non-horror veterans (with the exception of Laurie Holden, who fans of The X-Files might recognize), they make for a great cast. Also, it's kinda interesting to see Kim Coates not being a total slime ball pervert as I've seen him in other roles. I didn't recognize him in this one, and it took a few viewings before I realized it was actually him that played Tig in Sons of Anarchy (he also played a bit of a crazy dude in Resident Evil Afterlife as well, but I think I recognized him right away in there).
All in all, this film was a great adaption and a truly great way to bring the series to the silver screen. I never felt cheated nor did I feel like anything was forced on me here. I know movie adaptions of video games tend to get blasted, but this one deserves a chance. Personally, in the case of Silent Hill, and even the Resident Evil movies, I find myself preferring the films over the games, simply
because I always played the games for their atmosphere and stories, and
never for the puzzles and challenges they posed.
Silent Hill is one I highly recommend to those who are into atmospheric and psychological type of horror movies. There is plenty of blood, especially towards the end, but I still recommend it to those who don't normally go for the bloody kind.
Side thought: The first Silent Hill game is probably what really got me into liking stuff on the darker side. I find myself enjoying the movies more than the games now, not because they were "bad games" but rather, simply because I'd rather experience their atmosphere with a bowl of popcorn, not with a controller hoping not to die.