Movie Review: SILENT HILLKonami Corporation
2006
R

“You burned in the fire that you started and nothing can save you because you’re already damned!”

After a rather heart-stopping episode with their adopted daughter’s sleepwalking, a mother decides the best way to help cure the girl is to take her to the abandoned ghost town she keeps mentioning in her dream-state. After getting run off the road outside of Silent Hill, the mother wakes up to find her daughter missing, and a mysterious fog enshrouding the town. And while trying to find her missing child, she discovers that it’s probably best to stay out of the dark…

I love the game this movie is based on. I’ve only played the first one, and only at a friends’ place in Denver quite a few years ago, but it stuck with me. It wasn’t like the Resident Evil type horror games, where there’s a lot of “boo” scares and hideous zombie action going on. SH was more atmospheric in its horror, not to mention sporting a rather complex storyline that I still don’t understand fully, no matter how many times Virg smacked me on the back of the head and explained things to me again…

But enough of me reminiscing about a video game that ultimately left me with a bit of trauma-educed drain bamage…on with the movie version…

As many of you who read my reviews (both of you) may know, I don’t particularly like movies that are adapted from video games. Really, in the great scheme of things, movies that are adapted from video games rank only better than movies based on classic television programs. And not by a wide margin, either. Since viewing that great abomination that was the first Resident Evil movie, I’ve yet to see one that’s worth the price of the rental fee, let alone a movie ticket stub.

Note that I said “I’ve yet to see one that’s worth the price of the rental fee, let alone a movie ticket stub.” See the emphasis I made on “yet to see”? Doesn’t exactly fill you with hope, now does it?

Now, lest you think that your ol’ Uncle NecRo has already passed judgement in the negative to yet another in what appears to be a long line of video games-to-movie train wrecks, let me reassure you that, while Silent Hill is far from perfect, it does merit more in the positives than the negatives.

Close your mouth. You’re attracting flies.

While I admit to entering the theater (packed with many Junior High kids, I might add) not expecting much, I did manage to enjoy Silent Hill on a certain level. To wit…

The atmosphere. Dark, foreboding, creepy, and downright chilling. The fog lent a nice surreal touch to the “daylight”, and the scenes involving the living darkness was something right out of my nightmares. Beautifully and artfully done. The camera angle work was straight out of the video game, and adds to the tone nicely. Good call reproducing that. And the soundtrack…well, let’s just say it’s an industrial / dark ambient fanboy joygasm (there. Used that phrase in two reviews now). I came out of it wanting a copy of the soundtrack. Creepy good stuff. And for toppers, I can’t say enough about including Pyramidhead and those creepy-beyond-creepy nurses. Yeah, they and those freaky child corpses at the beginning are going to haunt my nightmares…bring ’em on…

Now that I got the good stuff out of the way, let me hit you with the bad news. And that is…drumroll please…

…et-hem…

*feedback squelch*

THE ACTING SUCKED! (…UCKED!…UCKED!…UCKED!…UC*)

May seem like a minor thing, especially when compared (on paper…or in this case, a computer monitor) to all the nice things I had to say about it. But, believe me, what appears to be a minor quibble is, in actuality, a major handicap in my overall enjoyment of the film. It’s like all the actors studied the personality traits and subtle nuances of the body movements and voice inflection from the characters in the game itself. Which is to say…well, Stephen Hawking would have given a rousing Oscar-worthy performance over these guys.

But enough bellyaching. Down to brass tacks.

Is Silent Hill a better video-game based horror movie than the other video-game based horror movies? Yes. No doubt. Is it a good horror movie in and of itself? On a certain level, yes it is. If you’re idea of a good horror flick is a slow-burning, creepy and atmospheric without relying on boo scares, and with an ending that doesn’t take the easy route, most definitely (see, many of those teenyboppers in the theater didn’t like said movie because of lack of the “boo”…kids these days. Can’t live with ’em…and you can’t eat ’em…legally…). Is Silent Hill worth the price of a theater ticket? Gonna have to say “no” to that one, I’m afraid. But, really, two out of three ain’t bad, especially given the source material, and the usual track record of movies like this…

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