2006, Movies

Silent Hill (2006, Christopher Gans)

This is a video game adaptation which, like so many video game adaptations, does not translate very well to the screen. I played a Silent Hill game years ago and remember being pretty creeped out. (I didn’t get very far, and I honestly don’t remember anything except that it was creepy.) So if you think it’s a good video game, that’s great. But it’s not a good movie.


There are a lot of things that don’t work:

  • The inciting action doesn’t seem very believable – you have a sleep walking daughter and you live next to one of Hamilton’s waterfalls? that’s smart.
  • Some of the dialogue – especially between Mitchell and Holden – seems piped in from post.
  • The digital effects have dated rather poorly in the intervening decade plus.
  • The plot, such as it is, feels pretty weak, and I’m not sure that setting the town in Centralia makes the video game plot make any more sense. The additional storyline featuring Sean Bean is mostly abandoned partway through the movie.
  • And the reveal – that requires two flashbacks to explain – is not really much of an explanation, in terms of film plots. (It might work for a video game, but a film usually requires more than “ghost cult burns children so everything makes sense.”

But some of this might be forgivable if the film didn’t use up most of its (poor) CGI tricks early on the film. I am a strong believer in the fundamental rule of horror films waiting as long as possible to reveal their bad guy or bad guys. But this film exposes us to creepy stuff pretty damn early, and the big bad guy who we’re supposed to be scared of shows up so damn early so whatever tension that might have possibly been created by our potential fear of the creature is ruined. Once you’ve seen that beast (and the other things), you don’t really expect anything that comes later to be scary either. And the things that come later are not scary – not even very gross – and they’re on the audience surrogate’s side anyway.


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