Silent Hill (Christophe Gans, 2006)

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Michael
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 12:09 pm

#1 Post by Michael » Mon Jul 30, 2007 9:01 pm

I just watched Silent Hill on cable. I was surprised by the movie. Surely, it's a mess (perhaps more for those who never played the video game like myself) but I think it's completely a dark and tragic beauty. A crazy masterpiece of set design and photography - amazingly detailed and constructed. Complete with some corny dialogues that made me giddy like a kid. If you're a fan of Italian Horror (Bava, Argento, Fulci, Soavi), then you can't go wrong with this movie. It's all style and ridiculously lean substance but that's perfectly fine with me.

Its ending is beautifully chilling - far more haunting than most recent films.

I was absolutely delighted to see Alice Krige who I loved in Ghost Story 25 years ago and Jodelle Ferland (of the knock-out masterpiece Tideland) needs to steal Dakota Fanning's agent.

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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

#2 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Jul 31, 2007 12:29 pm

Strangely I finally got around to this a couple of weeks ago myself. I thought it was very interesting but like you I haven't played the video game so I'm not sure how fans would react. Although this is neatly explained later on, it was a little strange to see sequences build to the appearance of the monsters and then seem to peter out - I get the impression that would be similar to the point at which you would have to battle the creatures in the game itself so I don't know how gamers would react to the monsters being used mostly just for their grotesque, creepy or imposing appearances (apart from the one gore scene at the church and the nurses). And perhaps it was better that there was less emphasis on battling the monsters and more on the story itself for the film version. (The build up, the images and the journey through them being the point rather than the end reached itself also reminded me a little of the best sequence in The Cell, (2))

However, this also felt like one of the few game adaptations that tried to capture the feeling of playing the game. The characters moving to the next environment that they have been guided towards, the sense that there is nothing else outside of the environment except what was essential for the story, meeting increasingly malevolent creatures, having to complete certain tasks or negotiate obstacles with the right manouevres.

For example, the scene where the main character has to jump from beam to beam in the shattered hidden room of the hotel which doesn't really have a narrative function but feels like the kind of obstacle placed by a game designer to give the character/game player a test before they get the reward of a bit more plot. Or the scene of having to duck and dodge the nurses at the exact moment to avoid their blades - if these sequences were in a game I'm sure they would be the parts where the character I was in control of would die a number of times and I would have to reload and try again and again before I finally managed to get past them!)

I imagine these scenes were trying to capture the feel of playing the game in a more interesting way than I've seen in other game to film adaptations which often just seem to take the characters and put them in a classical filmic setting and structure, which often ends up disappointing the gamers who don't recognise the tone or style of the game in the formulaic film created just to show off the characters (For example the Tomb Raider films - Angelina Jolie was absolutely perfect for the character but was completely let down by the poorly plotted films that surrounded her, or rather was let down by a focus on the convoluted (and ultimately just pretexts for the action in the games) plotting while ignoring the things that made the game a success that could be translated well to film - the first film had a few moments, such as the opening or the gun fight in Croft Manor, but the second fell completely flat - I could have been watching sequences from any action film).
Michael wrote:I was absolutely delighted to see Alice Krige who I loved in Ghost Story 25 years ago and Jodelle Ferland (of the knock-out masterpiece Tideland) needs to steal Dakota Fanning's agent.
Another coincidence that occured for me was that over the last couple of weeks the BBC has been re-running the Stephen King adaptation of The Kingdom. Not as good as the Lars Von Trier series (no Udo Kier for one thing! But also the same events from the five episodes of the original series were stretched over thirteen shows, with additions that didn't particularly add much. And heavy handed special effects and moral lessons that make the original seem the epitome of subtle story telling! As well as the embarassing replaying of Stephen King's accident in the first episode that he had already dealt with much more successfully in his On Writing book), but it did feature Jodelle Ferland as the ghost of the little girl which perhaps made her an ideal choice for Silent Hill - she already had experience with getting to grips with concepts such as playing two characters and of two worlds existing in the same space as well as of dealing with disturbing material! Perhaps Sarah Polley shouldn't have worried too much about the girl being unable to cope with what Terry Gilliam was going to expose her to?(!)

Alice Krige is great in the film - she seems to have cornered the market in playing dark, abusive roles in fantasy films! She had a great part in Stephen King's Sleepwalkers as the cat-vampire-woman urging her son to murder in a funny and tragic oedipal relationship! She plays the early scenes as a pushy mother wanting her child to grow up and make his first kill while the son is more conflicted - it is played almost like a mother pushing her child to his first day of school because she knows it is a necessary thing for him to do, that goes well with the other theme of an animal teaching its young to hunt for its food! The scene where she is looking afer her dying son after he screws up his mission spectacularly is surprisingly powerful, so much so it feels a bit out of place from the rest of the film, which is more in-jokey and cartoonish.

Also she had an eye-opening S&M-tinged scene as the Borg Queen torturing Data in Star Trek: First Contact by giving the robot skin and nerves so he can feel pain.

It was great to see Radha Mitchell in a horror film again, she was excellent in Pitch Black as well. That reminds me, I keep meaning to see The Chronicles of Riddick to see how the story was continued (and also to see Judi Dench in a sci-fi movie!)

And Sean Bean finally got to play a good, if ineffectual, character in a Hollywood film!
Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed Aug 01, 2007 8:39 am, edited 26 times in total.

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lord_clyde
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#3 Post by lord_clyde » Tue Jul 31, 2007 2:46 pm

I am a huge fan of the gaming series and enjoyed the film. To touch on some points, Silent Hill does not place a lot of emphasis on battling monsters. That is, you can complete the game only killing the boss monsters, and are in fact encouraged to find other alternatives. For example, you are equipped with a flashlight and a radio. The flashlight of course provides light, but also attracts monsters. The radio screeches static when monsters are nearby. Also, running attracts monsters. Therefore, while tempting to run through areas as quickly as possible with your flashlight on, it is actually safer to walk in the dark and conserve ammunition.
For me, the games are all about atmosphere, and are immensely fun to play with a group of friends (passing the controller as it is one player) and inching your way through the creepy environments, unsure of what will come next.
While the Resident Evil style of gameplay dictates that if there is a window something must crash through it, the strength of the Silent Hill games is that there are no such cliches, it is really impossible to tell what will happen next. Sometimes you will enter a creepy room and your radio will go crazy, only to stop suddenly. And then nothing. Other times you will enter a harmless room only to have hostile figures emerge suddenly from the walls just when you thought you could take a breather. It keeps the suspense up and sometimes makes it unbearable to play for more than an hour at a time.
As for the film, the only problem I had with it was how we keep being drawn back into the 'real world' for Sean Bean's little investigation. I would have preferred to be trapped like Radha Mitchell. Oh, and the music in the film - mostly from Silent Hill 2. I highly recommend buying the soundtrack (to the game), easily one of the finest video game soundtracks ever.

forweg
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2006 1:24 am

#4 Post by forweg » Wed Aug 01, 2007 1:48 pm

And perhaps it was better that there was less emphasis on battling the monsters and more on the story itself for the film version.
But there is almost no emphasis on battling the monsters in (the better installments of) the games. And I would go as far as to say that every Silent Hill game has a better story than the one present in this film.

The movie throws in a few random, half-assed elements from the games. Otherwise, there is no connection at all.

As disappointing as this was, I'll be interested to see if they even try to cover the James Sunderland saga in the second film.

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lord_clyde
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#5 Post by lord_clyde » Wed Aug 01, 2007 4:32 pm

forweg wrote:
And perhaps it was better that there was less emphasis on battling the monsters and more on the story itself for the film version.
But there is almost no emphasis on battling the monsters in (the better installments of) the games. And I would go as far as to say that every Silent Hill game has a better story than the one present in this film.

The movie throws in a few random, half-assed elements from the games. Otherwise, there is no connection at all.

As disappointing as this was, I'll be interested to see if they even try to cover the James Sunderland saga in the second film.
I thought the end of the first film left this wide open, as the second film could start with Sean Bean (who is not James, but still) receiving a letter from his wife.

And James' story in Silent Hill 2 is the most mature and poignant story I have yet experienced in a game.

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