Monday, August 28, 2006


Everyone who recommended SILENT HILL to me also happened to be big fans of the video game it's based on. As weird as this may sound, I think the film would have been better if they HADN'T stayed so true to the game. I realize the filmmakers would have risked pissing off basically everyone who was gonna go see the movie, but ultimately the film would have been much much more enjoyable for the average horror movie fan or movie-watcher. SILENT HILL is in many ways a really great movie, it has a stunning visual style, great music, outstanding cinematography, and gorgeous creepy sets. It's full of actors I like a lot (such as Deborah Kara Unger and Alice Krige), it's a female-driven movie, and the script was written by Roger (RULES OF ATTRACTION) Avary. So why did I find myself becoming very restless watching this film? Why was it more fun to make jokes about it?

The answer is, watching SILENT HILL is exactly like watching someone else play a video game for 2 hours. Not exactly my idea of a fun evening. Video games have gotten so cinematic and, at times, scary, that producers get this idea that a literal translation from console to silver screen (including the exact same look of the computer-animated monsters) will result in a good movie. While I think director Christophe Gans's film BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF was highly overrated, I expected a bit more out of Roger Avary, one of my favorite writer/directors. There are times when it does indeed feel like you're watching a movie, but for the majority of the 125-minute running time of SILENT HILL, you're watching a woman run around and find stuff in different rooms, just like a video game. Some jolt or drastic change occurs every so often, and then it's back to run around and find stuff again.

I will say the climax in the town church is very intense and effective, unquestionably the best scene in the film. It brings the gore and the freak-outs and the payoffs, but the wait is near-agonizing. I felt Laurie Holden's expert performance as the female police officer deserved to have been written as more than a one-dimensional game character, actually none of the actors (save for maybe Krige) had much at all to work with in terms of character development. I'd expect this kind of thing from a video game, but not from a horror film with this much talent involved.


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