Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: Contains horror scenes, violence
Radha Mitchell as Rose Da Silva
Sean Bean as Christopher Da Silva
Laurie Holden as Cybil Bennett
Jodelle Ferland as Alessa Gillespie
Deborah Kara Unger as Dahlia Gillespie
Alice Krige as Christabella
Kim Coates as Officer Thomas Gucci
Tanya Allen as Anna
Director: Christophe Gans
Unable to accept the fact that her daughter is dying, Rose (Radha Mitchell) decides to take the girl to a faith healer. On the way, the pair drive through a portal in reality, leading to an eerie town called Silent Hill. The town is surrounded by a potent darkness, and the human survivors fight a losing battle against it.
It’s pretty well known that video game movies most of the time just don’t work. However, I did for a while hear about how Silent Hill movie is actually one of the better video game movies. I haven’t played any of the Silent Hill games but I know that some of the games are known for being some of the best horror video games ever. Silent Hill is definitely better than most video game movies and has a lot of good elements to it, mostly with the direction and how the town of Silent Hill is portrayed. However, it also has some elements that bring it down from being as good as it could’ve been.
Full disclosure, it’s been years since I’ve seen this Silent Hill movie and I’ll do my best to remember what’s in the movie. This movie doesn’t take characters or stories from one of the games thankfully, this means that they won’t be tied down with a particular story or characters to adapt and so they have much more freedom to do whatever they want. This movie just uses the most important part of the game series, the town of Silent Hill itself. The story itself isn’t bad but it’s not that great either. Some characters, as per usual with generic horror movies, just really makes some really bad decisions. With that said, the movie started off quite well and had my attention. However, it starts to fall away in the second act when it gets needlessly convoluted. This might be a bit of a spoiler but I’m pretty sure that the movie would’ve been better if the film didn’t connect the daughter character to Silent Hill in some convoluted way. From what I can tell from the Silent Hill series (or at least from the best games of the series), the problems that the main characters encounter while in Silent Hill are mainly influenced by their own issues, the town just brings out their own fears. By having this needless connection, it just feels very Hollywood and is just not as impactful, it’s much less psychological. All the while I’m trying to follow what’s going on and as a result, any atmosphere or tension that is being built up just disappears over time. By the time it gets to the end, it just feels underwhelming. The movie does feel a little too long, even at just over 2 hours. Granted it’s been years since I’ve seen the movie and it could be better or worse than I remember, but that’s how I recall it being.
The acting by the main cast is okay enough, not really anything special. Radha Mitchell is quite good as the lead character of Rose as she’s going to Silent Hill. Sean Bean is perfectly fine as Rose’s husband but he feels out of place, he ultimately feels pointless to the movie, it’s really focussed on Mitchell’s character when she’s in Silent Hill and at random points cuts to Sean Bean trying to figure out what happened to her and their daughter. It’s like he was only in the movie so that he could appear in the sequel like 6 years later. We also have Laurie Holden and other actors who are fine enough in their roles.
Christopher Gans’s direction works well and a big part of the reason why this makes the movie somewhat work. For the most part, the visuals of Silent Hill were truly great. The designs of the monsters were really great and horrific, and the best part is that practical effects are in use, far more than I expected there to be. I haven’t played the Silent Hill games myself, but from the brief glimpses I had of some of the games, it looks like the movie was staying true to them. The movie has a good atmosphere of isolation that is really needed in a Silent Hill story. There’s a lot of walking and long moments to build up atmosphere but it doesn’t succeed as well as I think it could’ve but it was still alright. There are some predictable jumpscares but not as many as most bad horror movies.
The Silent Hill movie was better than I thought it would be, given that most video game movies aren’t all that good. It started off well, the direction and the visuals are really good, and at times it seems to capture the spirit of the games. Unfortunately, there are things holding it back from being even decent as a movie on its own. I think that a Silent Hill movie released nowadays with the recent comeback of horror movies could be something really good, and I’d be open to seeing that. Till then, this is the best we got in terms of video game horror movies (and no, although I haven’t seen it yet, apparently the sequel is really terrible).