Saturday, 13 April 2013

HFA Review No. 1 - Silent Hill

A review for Silent Hill I did for Horror Fans Asylum Reviews.

Silent Hill
Review by Michael Skilling
Hello everyone and welcome to the Horror Fans Asylum Reviews website! This is my first review for this page, but you can feel free to check out my film blog Left Field Films if you enjoy it!
“Silent Hill” is a 2006 film, directed by Christophe Gans (Brotherhood Of The Wolf), and is based on the popular video of the same name.
Parents Rose (Radha Mitchell) and Christopher Da Silva (Sean Bean) are worried about their adopted daughter Sharon’s (Jodelle Ferland) continuous sleep walking and constant mentioning of the town called Silent Hill. Rose thinks that taking her daughter to Silent Hill could end her troubles once and for all. Her husband on the other hand, thinks that a good psychiatrist and some medication are the order of the day.
Rose decides to take off without consulting Christopher, but finding Silent Hill proves difficult. It seems Silent hill is a blocked off ghost town due to an underground coal fire which is still burning and producing noxious fumes. At a gas station, Rose finds that her husband has cancelled her credit card and she get’s pretty agitated. A policewoman (Laurie Holden) notices this and decides to follow Rose, and a high speed chase ensues.
As per usual with most horror film car chases, the car crashes and Rose is knocked unconscious. She wakes to find that her daughter is missing, and that she is in the empty town of Silent Hill with it’s ghostly fog and falling ash. After a while trying to find her daughter, an air raid siren ominously sounds and the town is plunged into darkness and the surroundings seem to tear away, exposing a rusty, industrial like underbelly full of wire mesh fencing and barbed wire.
As Rose tries to navigate her way through these new surroundings, she thinks that she see’s her daughter and gives chase. Suddenly she is surrounded by hideous child like creatures with sharp claws and glowing eyes. As she begins to get overpowered by the creatures, they seem to evaporate away and everything becomes grey again.
Once again, Rose resumes her search for her daughter. She makes a phone call to her husband saying that she needs his help. Afterwards, the policewoman finds her and arrests her, and tries to lead her out of town only to find that the road has vanished. They see a creature in the mist and it sprays some sort of acid at the policewoman who then shoots and kills it.
I try not to spoil movies too much, but what follows is 2 hours of bedlam. Rose travels through an abandoned school, museum, and other areas while tackling horrific giant flesh eating bugs, faceless nurses, crazed religious cults, and the infamous and mysterious “Pyramid Head”,  who all come out of the darkness once the siren sounds. All of these creatures can be found in the video game too.
Simultaneous to these events, husband Christopher goes into Silent Hill with the local police to try and find Rose. After failing to find her he tries to piece together the mystery of their disappearance and digs a bit too deep for the local authorities liking.
I watched the film shortly after it had just came out and never gave the film much thought afterwards. Watching it again, I’m really surprised at how close it comes to replicating the game. The music is spot on, as are the creature designs, and the set design is fantastic. The foggy and ash laden town of Silent Hill is staggeringly beautiful and dream like, while the dark side of the town is truly the stuff of nightmares and is quite unsettling. The CGI is a lot more successful looking than even a lot of films coming out today and it blends seamlessly with it’s surroundings.
The film is quite long, probably due to all the slow lingering shots that built up the atmosphere of the first half of the film. The second half seems slightly rushed story wise. Not that it’s a particularly bad story, just that too much get’s crammed in during the film’s last half hour when it could have been slowly placed in at better intervals throughout the film.
I would say that this is one of the more successful video game adaptations out there. It manages to retain the games look and ambiguity, while throwing in a somewhat legible storyline that is slightly rushed but acceptable. The acting is pretty good though Sean Bean’s part in the film was a bit weak. I would recommend this film, especially to fans of the game (though if that were the case, I’m sure you’ve seen it already). But there is enough dark imagery which is reminiscent of Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser”, and some nice set pieces, to keep horror fans entertained even for it’s length.
There is a sequel due out for October called “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D”. This film also stars Radha Mitchell and Sean Bean, and after re-watching “Silent Hill”, I am curious and will probably go to the cinema to watch it. No doubt you’ll see a review of the film by your’s truly.
I’ll give this film 3 needles out of 5!
Thank you for visiting Horror Fans Asylum Reviews, hopefully you’ll wish to remain an inmate for the foreseeable future!

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