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Silent Hill


‘…Silent Hill is no masterpiece, the plotting is lopsided, the climax confusing and somewhat repellently violent in a Clive Barker way, but it’s also a strong, female-driven story with exquisite visuals and sound design…’

Is it just me, or is every video game adaptation these days the BEST EVER? Whether it’s Sonic the Hedgehog or Super Mario Brothers or The Last of Us, it’s standard issue to proclaim that the plague of bad video-game adaptations has gone. Yet today’s games are more like movies than movies; cinematic, with elaborate plots and well-established characters; there’s no reason why a great game and film franchise can’t co-exist, hand controller in hand controller. Things were different back in 2006, when being a video-game adaptation seemed like a stigma to be overcome; Christophe Gans’ film made over $100 million but was generally rubbished, and wasn’t even shown to critics in a bid stifle negative word of mouth. Things change, however, and Silent Hill has a fast growing reputation in 2023 as an unfairly neglected movie that was somewhat ahead of its time.

After a simple enough hook- mother loses daughter and pursues her into an occult netherworld- Silent Hill does get very odd indeed, and the lack of explanation may have confused audiences at the time. But we’ve done plenty world-building since then, and Silent Hill’s action often seems positively quaint and direct…Radha Mitchell plays Rose, who together with husband Christopher (Sean Bean) has concerns about their adoptive daughter Sharon, who has a tendency to sleepwalk and keeps talking about an abandoned town called Silent Hill. Hoping to cure her daughter of her bad dreams, and against her husband’s intuition, Rose takes Sharon to a West Virginia mining town abandoned since the 1970’s, but where the fires still burn bright under the ground. Rose accidentally hits a child with her car, and Sharon vanishes, but with the help of tough-nut traffic cop Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden), Rose discovers a strange cult which rules over Silent Hill, led by Christabella (Alice Krige), priestess of The Brethren, a group who seek to stave off the Apocalypse through sacrifice…

‘You want to burn what you can’t control’ is a line which gives a good indication of what’s at stake here; the Silent Hill community, as depicted here, is very much a controlling influence that Rose is dead set against in terms of potential influence on her child. Rose’s struggle is spectacularly depicted exploring the town of Silent Hill itself, with fog, snowflakes, deserted buildings and empty streets creating a real sense of desolation. The CGI isn’t great, but there’s less of it than you’d expect; the various monsters encountered, including the fearsome Pyramid Head, were realised through costume, make-up and trained dance professionals, and look better than today’s green screen monstrosities.

‘Next time, I’ll be back with better people’ murmurs Sean Bean after another anti-climactic encounter; his own investigation of Rose and Sharon’s disappearance is fairly lame and feels added just to provide a male voice to a largely female story. Such tiresome filler aside, Silent Hill is one of the few film adaptations of a video game that looks and feels like its source material, right down to opening drawers and finding flashlights, but also incorporating cinematic lifts with the creepy, abandoned Midwitch school that features in the central action. Silent Hill is no masterpiece, the plotting is lopsided, the climax confusing and somewhat repellently violent in a Clive Barker way, but it’s also a strong, female-driven story with exquisite visuals and sound design; if you’ve heard bad things about it, now might just be the right time to return to Silent Hill.



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  1. You do hang out with the best, don’t you? Was it your yacht? enjoyed htis at the time. Rahda Mitchell was going through a great patch. It didn’t look an obvious contender for videogame.

  2. I’ve heard of the game, but never knew it was turned into a movie. with that kind of money being brought it, i”m surprised they didn’t try to do more of the movies. Any idea why?

  3. Never played the videogame, or even heard of it to be honest. Trailer looks like they maybe had 30 minutes worth of story, if that. Think I’ll pass.

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