Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Silent Hill

—1. Overview
—2. Cast and Crew
—3. Photo Pages
—4. Trailers, Clips, DVDs, Books, Soundtrack
—5. Posters (Horror Films)
—6. Production Notes (pdf)
—7. Spiritual Connections
—8. Presentation Downloads

enlarge Depending on who you listen to, video games are bringing in more revenues now than movies. Thus, movies over the last few years have as a starting point, video games. From Mortal Combat to lesser known movies like The Mario Brothers, the genera has come around.

Many have claimed the Konami game Silent Hill is the scariest role playing game ever. With some reluctance I decided to attend the picture. I had tried to play the game in the past, but quickly came to know, that outside of sports games, I just don’t get into the gaming world. I hadn’t thought much of movies in the past made from games, and wasn’t expecting much from the movies screenplay written by Roger Avary.

The basic storyline of Silent Hill is that parents Rose, (Radha Mitchell) and Christopher, (Sean Bean) Da Silva have a daughter that sleepwalks and has nightmares. The episodes are dangerous, even life threatening. They nightmares have another common occurrence; the words Silent Hill continue to come up from their daughter Sharon, played with haunting beauty by young actress Jodelle Ferland.

Seeking to find out what is going on, both Rose and Christopher discover that Silent Hill is an old town that was vacated due to dangerous underground fires. Many people in the town died, and the fumes and ash continue to provide a toxic environment so the town has become a ghost town, a ghost town in more ways than one. As Rose takes daughter Sharon to find out what is going on, things start to happen and happen fast.

The town is shut down barricaded. Many of the locals have had nothing to do with the town for years and do all they can to keep outsiders away. Rose decides to flee after a traffic stop by police officer Cybil Bennett played by Laurie Holden. The next thing you know Rose has an accident, has lost her daughter and she and policewoman Bennett start on a journey filled with horror and mystery to try and relocate Sharon.

From the opening scenes the concept of good and evil is presented. From images of the cross to Bible verses that provide ongoing clues the viewer is drawn into not only the search for Sharon, but the search for spiritual significance and meaning. We are told several times that to a child their mother is as if they were God. One of the beautiful things of the movie though, is the mystery as to what is from God, and what is from demons.

I hate spoilers and will do everything I can to keep from giving any. It is interesting that the one place that seems to provide sanctuary and safety is the church in Silent Hill. One has to be careful though about perceptions. We never quite know the story of what has occurred until the conclusion of the movie, and even then there are questions. It is quite certain though, that the battle that Rose, Cybil, and Sharon face is spiritual. Sure there are actual concerns and dangers, but the real battle takes place in the spiritual realm. At times it is difficult to determine who is good and who is evil. People are not always as they seem, not until the end is there any level of certainty, but even then, the viewer will walk away with questions.

I liked the fact that Silent Hill is open-ended; it forces one to think about what they have seen. It is amazingly scary, and amazingly real. This is impressive when realizing there is very little CGI in the film. With the exception of fog, the film depends largely on actors. These actors will scare the Hell out of you.

There are several sequences in the movie that give indication it is based on a video game. With the exception of those sequences the movie actually flows along well and holds its own as a scary, mysterious story.

The viewer will leave with questions, questions of what is evil and what isn’t? What ways does society and religion in particular bring about evil? Who can we trust and not trust? And, how does one distinguish what is influenced by God and what is influenced by Satan? There are many other questions. Questions like what about life after death? Are there spiritual realms that we don’t know exist?

It has been stated before that few genres address good and evil in the way horror does. Silent Hill delivers. It delivers in ways that have you silent and mesmerized one moment, and jumping in your seat the next. Squirming one second, and holding your breath the next. Not in a long time has a horror movie delivered in such a scary way.

While not perfect, Silent Hill is very good. Well worth watching for those that love the genera, and the video game enthusiasts will not be disappointed. It isn’t for everyone, but it will do well at the box office. It may just be the movie needed to kick off the spring and summer season.

On a scale of 1-10, a very scary, thought provoking 8


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