Silent Hill: non-spoiler review

We’ve got another thread on Silent Hill going, but you should stay away if you haven’t seen the movie yet. Erik Wolpaw frickin’ gives away the final shot!

So here’s my spoiler-free review of a not very good movie that I actually liked.


Good review. You addressed precisely how it collapses when the Borg Queen comes into it, and the most interesting point of all, that the movie’s quality from scene to scene is often proportional to how closely it resembles something from the game!


“When she isn’t saddled with some truly dreadful lines, Radha Mitchell does a presentable job with the combination of terror and determination required for our lead character, … we watch Mitchell’s Rose doing something far less gamey and more sensible: being scared.”

Absolutely disagree. I didn’t find any character’s reaction to the events to be believable at all. Perhaps a result of awful dialogue and some bad acting, but Rose seemed to accept things far more quickly than she should have. “What’s going on!? What’s happening?! Oh, is that all. Okay. I’ll scream a bit more later to make sure everyone remembers that I don’t like it here.” Instead of having the fear constant, the stress of being in this obviously twisted place slowly eating away at her, Rose comes to accept it and get on with the searching. Then, every once in a while, she’ll encounter some awful thing that’ll make her run or scream only to revert back to exploration mode in a blink when it’s over. I’d almost want to describe it as watching two different roles when it should have been an easy melding of one.

Wow chick your review coincides well with my opinion posted on the other thread.

I will say this here, I think Gans did a good job and I respected his effort immensely. From all that I’ve read about him and his views about games and Silent Hill particularly he seems like the Anti-Uwe.

From TomChick’s review: “Like most horror movies, Silent Hill falls apart completely before it ends.”

Uh? Do most horror films fall apart before the end? I suppose if you go by the rule “99% of everything is shit” they do, but you seem to be suggesting something innate to the genre.

Do most horror films fall apart before the end?

Lots of supernatural ones do. For some reason, people who write ghost / Pyramid Head movies can’t resist launching into a detailed explanation for all the weirdness about 3/4 of the way through the movie. Too often, it turns out the ghost is just another victim, sad and misunderstood like the mourners at a funeral in World of Warcraft. No matter what the rationale is, though, terror is sacrificied for - well, nothing, really. Because nobody cares why Pyramid Head is so mad; We just want to see him screw the dominatrix cop while simultaneously stuffing her into a garbage disposal. SPOILER STANDDOWN: that doesn’t actually happen.

A certain 70s horror film is one of the worst offenders of this, it turns out the ghost is so pissed off because in reality he was short, seriously.

Movies fall apart in general, I think, because of a diffuse inclination throughout filmmakers to take a certain approach to correct plotting and exposition. I guess you could call it a “structuralist” approach, because it builds upon descriptive analyses of storytelling and mistakes it for a prescriptive instruction manual on storytelling.

Disney explicitly did this in the 1990s to great success, but we got wise to it real fast. Anything post-Lion King could have little placards popping up at 10 minute intervals telling us which part of the heroic pilgrimage the protagonist has just reached.

Now it’s not so clear with stuff like Silent Hill, but I think there’s still a very deliberated series of necessary events that gets in the way, and horror films suffer from it the worst because they are the least apt for being rendered along such lines.

If an action movie get to a point and starts shoehorning in some “essential wrap up plot points” to get it to the “dramatic climax” so the hero can “return from the cave of evil” or whatever, it works because it’s a warrior on a quest for something and that’s how stories like that work.

But when you’re filming a video game homage with an intricate mythological backstory presented to the viewer with surreal imagery, things are a bit different. They build it up and then have to unravel it, fast, because they think there has to be the showdown, there has to be the elixir, there has to be the return, and there has to be the twist. Deviation from this formula always stays within its framework. They’ll never abandon the theory, they’ll just rearrange its deckchairs now and again.

Yeah, I’m being all bull-headed about it, but there’s something like this going on.

That’s an interesting theory. The hero’s journey as applied to an audience post modern awareness of its function and structure.

Help me out here then, since you’ve seemed to have spend quite some time thinking about it. I don’t suppose you could name a story or two (not necessarily film) that deviates from this model?

And also, whether those deviations worked for the story and how so?

Right, but what you are complaining about is something that’s integral to the games. A main character who is so emotionally numb, he sort of stops seeing what’s around him in his aim to get to what he needs to do.

Equisilius, as you noted with your elipses, you conveniently ignored the context of the comment. I was contrasting Rose with Harry in the Silent Hill game, which has him shooting things and smacking them with a lead pipe. Radha Mitchell’s character does none of that and is instead just scared.

And to Marsh, yes, I think it’s something particular about horror movies that they fall apart before they end. A great premise is easy, especially in horror where a lot of what’s going on starts out unknown. Two guys who don’t know each other chained to the walls of an underground bathroom, crop circles appearing in a farmer’s field, people dying whenever the fog rolls in from the sea, a driverless car running down virtuous pedestrians, a videotape that kills you seven days after you’ve seen it.

But once you have to unmask or explain it, it falls apart. Unlike most movies that begin with exposition and develop from there, horror is usually reversed: you’re dropped into a fantastic situation and have to figure out what the hell is going on. Nine times out of ten, it’s some deus ex machina that doesn’t live up to the premise because the writer had gotten himself into a corner and knew all along he could just turn to the supernatural for an exit strategy because, you know, it’s horror. The exceptions are notable because their denouements are more about character development than monsters: Session Nine, The Exorcist, and 28 Days Later come to mind.

This isn’t a problem with action movies, comedies, dramas, and other genres that don’t rely on venturing into and figuring out the unknown.


From the previews and reviews, I’m alittle disapointed that it’s a retread of Silent Hill 1 and 2. The thought of seeing pyramind head seems cool, but I guess it would have been too much to see an original story inside the Silent Hill universe.

I have played no Silent Hill game. I have not seen the movie.

But all this talk about a guy named Pyramid Head is very intriguing.


I told Angie(PhD., Silenthillanomics) about the shrub and she has a theory, but she doesn’t want to post it until she sees the movie Monday herself. Her theory is that it’s a reference to the first game, but I didn’t understand anything beyond that because I never finished the first game, so I won’t repeat it.

Regardless, it’s highly likely the shrub was too hardcore even for Tom.

You mean this ol’ guy? (spoiler)

Wow. 2 spoilers in the non-spoiler thread in less than 3 minutes.

(the shrub discussion is in the OTHER thread, but I don’t think even it has pictures of Pyramid Head tearing shit up)

Saying there’s a piece of flora in the movie is a spoiler? I think there’s some pavement and a building or two as well; hope that doesn’t ruin it for you.

A reasonable point. :) I think my reaction to your post was informed by my reading of the other thread.

Also, to be fair, “non-spoiler” in the title refers to the review on Yahoo, not necessarily the thread. :)


I’m imagining what Audition would be like if there were scenes to explain what goes down later on. Or the The Ring, both of which end unresolved. I think a story, especially a horror story only needs to have one conflict get resolved in order to end in the typical story structure. Often the mistake is making the entire plot get resolved. Do we really need to have the creature get explained and “solved?” Isn’t that what makes something like The Exorcist good? That demonic possession is not really a problem you can solve and thus the fear is always nascent?

Personally, I think just adapting Silent Hill 2 would have been a better idea for a movie, in that, if you ditch all the gamey stuff, you get a much more personable story about guilt, perspectives and despair that leaves a real context behind the horror. You can have it be almost entirely visual and with scant dialogue to help. And then you wouldn’t need a clean ending, as in the game.

Plus, I just think searching for a wife who is supposed to be dead is a much more intriguing plot premise. Especially since when you go into the reasons behind her death, the story gets some depth without the horror being explained.

Yes, we know what Pyramid Head was in the original “Silent Hill” and have a basic idea of how Silent Hill warps reality, but nothing beyond that and I like that. And for such a scary guy, Pyramid Head sure does have a funny name. That pic of him doesn’t seem as unnerving as his representation in the game though.

It sounds like the movie’s primary failure is that it decides to let all the stuff you intuit be stuff that you need the game to decode, and explain away all the other horror. The games don’t really explain that and they’re better for it.

Rule of Rose would be another excellent choice to turn into a movie, because again, the backdrop is the human drama of little children who have been fucked up because of their expectations of what adult elitist society is like. It’s like Jane Austen’s Lord of the Flies, except much weirder.