Flashback Films: Silent Hill

https://youtu.be/Y2M8iYL8suw Silent Hill is everything you would expect from a video game-based movie: a compelling idea overshadowed by a crowded plot attempting to fulfill every element of game-play in a short span of two hours. In short, it’s kind of a disappointment.   

Directed by Christopher Gans, and written by Roger Avary and Nicolas Boukhrief, the film is about a woman named Rose (Radha Mitchell) who takes her daughter to the abandoned ghost town that haunts her dreams every night—Silent Hill. Her daughter, Sharon (Jodelle Ferland), is kidnapped in Silent Hill and Rose must go after her. After that, the plot gets lost in a whirlwind of ideas and doesn’t settle on just one. At the beginning, it appears to be like your typical creepy child horror film, until we are introduced to witches, reapers, cults, a crazed killer, rapists, and not to mention, strange zombie-like creatures that are supposed to be the victims of the fire that took place in Silent Hill 30 years ago.  

The movie, based on the Japanese video game of the same title, attempts to mimic the stylings of game-play through fade-to-black cut-scenes, clues and maps that the protagonist picks up to lead her to her daughter, and a non-playable character that comes in the form of the police officer Cybil Bennet (Laurie Holden).  

For most of the movie, the dialogue is completely lacking. The writers chose the most standard phrases of speech simply to connect the horror scenes. The amount of times the protagonist repeats the phrase “my daughter is lost, I need to find her” is borderline excessive. We get it, she’s lost. We gain more information about what is going on from the flashback monologue provided by Sharon’s evil twin.  Rose’s professed love for her daughter was not convincing, either. Mitchell’s acting comes off as unbelievable. The words are there, but there is no emotion or passion to back the script up making her words seem forced. Even when comforting Officer Bennett after a near-death experience with the typical line “hey, it’s going to be OK”, Mitchell’s voice is so level and monotone that she fails to bring life to the already boring script.

That being said the film is definitely horrifying. It is not for the faint of heart or the weak-stomached, for that matter. Not only are the deaths gruesome (I’m talking barbed wire being used in ways you could never imagine) but the actual beings that haunt Silent Hill are best described as weird contorted humans, each one unique and evil in its own way. The creatures are not horrifying in the sense that they are large, dark and menacing, but more so that each one possesses a terrifying quality. Child zombies roam the underground bowling rink, gray human-figures spew corrosive puss, a contorted janitor creates tree branches from his finger-tips, and a massive giant storms the hall of the school.  It could be compared to a Lord of the Rings movie, but instead of humble tree giants, elves, and hobbits, you have these deadly creatures.

Just when the movie comes to a close and you have made as much sense as you could from the cluttered plot and lack of dialogue, you are robbed from the one thing you were waiting 125 minutes for—closure. The ending leaves you more confused than before as you realize Rose and her daughter are trapped in limbo. They never really return home, and we never really get an ending. Lack of closure is the most unsettling part of the film.  

If you are looking for a horror film to watch during a night-in, this movie will deliver on the jump-scare and gore factor. If you’re looking for something a little more developed, with a clear plot, at-par dialogue, and at least a single element of realism, I would steer clear of Silent Hill.  


This piece was edited by Luke Elisio,  film editor of CanCulture.