Many moons ago when the world was young and no one had ever heard of Drake (Ah! what a glorious time!) there was a game called Silent Hill. In this game, you took on the role of a guy named Harry Mason who has lost his adopted daughter Cheryl in the creepy mist-covered town of “Silent Hill.” Inside awaits a weird sort of hell on earth filled with frightening hallucinations, grotesque monsters, a dangerous cult, and some nurses (some real, some monstrous.)
The game was a success and was followed by a bunch of sequels some great, (like my favorite Silent Hill 2) and others weren’t that great (I couldn’t get into Silent Hill 4.) Some I haven’t even played.
The games I played were great. The story was usually really good and you cared for the characters because either liked or pitied them and other times you wished for them to die because of their evil nature. The design was often beautiful and unnerving at the same time. They were scary and to this day Silent Hill 2 is one of the scariest games I’ve played. Maybe it was a glitch, but I remember a specific instance where I was in the hotel in the town and it was silent as usual save for the signature and creepy soundtrack. All of the sudden, I hear a very loud groan. I never found the source and when I replayed it the next time I didn’t hear it. Or the next. It always stuck with me.
Look at me…I’m burning.
In 2006, a film adaptation was released. In short, it wasn’t too bad. It’s not great, but it is enjoyable and the design is just like the game: very well done. However, I think that’s where it ends. What follows may contain spoilers. But I don’t think you really care, do you?
The movie for the most part tries to combine aspects from the first two games with maybe a hint of the third. The main storyline of the movie is from the first one with the protagonist Rose ( here changed to a woman played by Radha Mitchell) losing her daughter Sharon in the town of Silent Hill, West Virginia an old mining town with a coal fire burning below the city. This is based on the real-life town of Centralia, PA. In pursuit is a cop named Cybil Bennett (played by Laurie Holden) who has a secret connection to the town.
Once there, they encounter many strange things like a weird bunch of creatures mainly from Silent Hill 2 . These include a creature that appears to be in a straight jacket, fetish faceless nurses, a lumbering creature fans of Silent Hill 2 will instantly recognize and two women named Dahilia Gillespie and Christabella the latter of whom appears to be the leader of a cult the remaining residents of Silent Hill cling on to. The pair struggles to find Sharon and Rose’s husband Christopher (played Sean Bean) tries desperately to find her with the help of detective who shares a connection to the mysterious town as well.
If you are a fan of the games like I am, you may be a little bit frustrated with how the film turns out. As I mentioned, it is undeniable that the design of the film is faithful to that of the games. Some of the monsters look as if they were lifted directly from the code and placed onto the sets. I really loved seeing the “laying creature” depicted on screen alongside the nurses, my favorite monsters, and even the iconic Pyramid Head.
The Pyramid Head is my first stop. He’s one of those characters that people loved. A lot of people, including myself, didn’t like the idea of including the character. But I think if they had left him out, I would’ve been upset. One of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t things. My reasoning being that all of the monsters from Silent Hill 2 looked the way they did for a reason. A lot of them are sexualized such as the nurse monsters which are the best examples I can think of. This leads into the interpretation of what Silent Hill actually is. The way I always understood it, Silent Hill is different from everyone. This is evident by some characters in Silent Hill 2 not being able to see what the James, the protagonist sees. For example, at one point, a character thinks she sees her sexually abusive father, but all the player can see is a strange furniture-like monster. The monsters appear sexualized as a representation of James’ repressed feelings. The nurses are exposing their cleavage, the lying figure is feminine in appearance, and the mannequins, well, they’re mannequins. However that is just my interpretation.
I think at the end of the day if you can just keep separating the movie from the games and just watch it for what it is after letting your brain out, I think you’ll have a good time. It’s an attractive movie and it has a pretty nasty villain.
“I took a wrong turn…got lost in the fog…”
In 2012, we got a sequel. Now this one is strange, kind of confusing, and pretty much a mess. Sean Bean is back but this time he has a different name, Harry Mason (after the protagonist from the first game) and a new daughter(?) This time it’s Heather Mason (played by http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelaide Clemens and named after the protagonist from the third.) It’s just the two of them…alone.
Harry and Heather have been on the run from what seems to be the police after Harry murdered a man and Heather is haunted by increasingly horrifying hallucinations. Eventually Heather is drawn back into Silent Hill after her father is kidnapped.
What follows is mostly a train wreck. The design seems to be a step down from the first although there is a really great, albeit short sequence featuring an interpretation of the mannequin monster. Unfortunately I think that’s the centerpiece of the film. The other monsters were alright and there is another sequence with the fetish nurses that I think is really good.
From what I read, there was a lot of problems with production and rewrites made to try and force the round hole into the square peg to make the film relate closer to the games and this required some changes from the first film. I appreciate the sentiment but I think that is a huge mistake. It kind of made the first movie irrelavant.
I don’t really have too much to say about this one. Once again if you can just watch it for what it is, you may enjoy it…but you may not. I feel that the first film is much better and there was definitely more of a story there…well, as much as you’d expect. So I’d say, sure give ’em a shot. They’re the kind of movies I think aren’t that great but enjoy watching like Van Helsing, Deep Blue Sea, and the first Resident Evil. So keep that in mind and have fun.
One final note: if you ever get “called” to Silent Hill or pass by it on the road…don’t go in. You may never leave.