Thursday, 17 January 2008

Review: Silent Hill (DVD)

General Info:
Year: 2006
Director: Christophe Gans
Writer: Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction)
Main Cast: Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Jodelle Ferland
Synopsis: A mother goes in search of her lost daughter after a crash just outside Silent Hill, where they where stupidly going (has she never played the games?). Some general nastiness ensues and she saves the day, in a fashion.

Overall:
As with most adaptations of games it's not all it's cracked up to be. It has some good ideas but relatively poorly executed. The acting is mostly annoying, the story drags on and for a horror type film is lacks any real horror. 3/10 which I think is pretty generous.

Good Points:
Atmosphere. Well it has one, which is nice, and it at points holds true to the games (I've actually only played Silent Hill 4 so I'm not exactly the voice of Silent Hill).

Cinemaphotography: Some of the camera angles used are pretty interesting, with some of the wide shots giving a really good feel of vastness. However there are some bland shots, more so towards the end.

Plot. Parts of the plot are interesting, but only small parts however.

Acting. Jodelle Ferland does a good job of being a bit of a crazy person and could be considered the best actor in the film, incidentally she does a good job too in Tidelands.

Effects: Aspects of the CG are good, again however other parts are not. Some of the monsters look very like they do in the game and have similar manarisms.

Music. Some bits of the music are good and add to the atmosphere, but they are relatively sparse.

Bad Points:

Acting. The main protagonist, Radha Mitchell, is mostly annoying. Having a female lead in a horror film is never great as the standard thing of screaming and acting helpless is used repeatedly. For the majority of the film she runs around aimlessly when faced with a bit of a nasty creature, screaming, crying and generally acting like an idiot until someone or something saves her. Yet she manages to turn from a nervous wreck one minute to a more together character who's telling the blatantly lesbian cop (not that I have anything agains blatantly lesbian cops) to "keep it together" despite screaming like an loon a few minutes ago. Sean Bean does a good job of making a hash of an american accent, but luckily he doesn't say very much. Some of the monster characters are also badly acted and have a feel of trying to be scary when really just acting like a pleb in a monster suit. There's also the pointless repetition of phrases to enforce a request which is already being carried out, and generally without any conviction, just a feeling of "it says this in the script, so I'll say it exactly",

Plot. For the main part the plot is the mother chasing after a girl in search of her daughter and meeting various obstructions along the way, which gets tiresome, at times it's just her running around. The choices this mother makes are a little obscure, running from a cop when pulled over when she'd done nothing wrong just because she'd seen the sign for silent hill and just generally being an idiot. Then there's the whole crazy occult "christians" who believe burning things and shouting certain words like DEMON, WITCH and BURN HER are fun. This is a wonderful cliché in the world of horror and was a distraction from the fun of the more interesting bits of Silent Hill like the crazy monsters. The sub-plot involving Sean Bean was also tedious, it hardly added to the story and again detracted from the Silent Hill world, which is really what the film should be about. You don't get a fun time watching some guy get in trouble with the cops trying to find his wife in the games, so why do we want to see that in the film? The plot descends mostly into save the day story with little in the way of new stuff, the grotesqueness of silent hill all but disappears and you're left with a load of crazy people and a woman who makes a pathetic attempt at trying to stop their madness so resorts to getting stabbed and allowing the evilness to roam free, which wasn't exactly her plan (if she even had one), so she's lucky it worked really. The ending, without giving too much away, is a tad on the bad people die, good people (well most of them) survive and they all go back to acting like nothing happened within a few seconds, which I'm not sure a normal human would do. However there is the utterly unexplained rift between the two worlds which seems to be utterly pointless, maybe it's for sequel sake, if so I hope they decide to cut out all the crap next time.

Music: As I think has been mentioned by telf at some point, film music should sit behind the film and compliment it, not sit slap bang on top of it making completely unnecessary noise and trying to make boring bits of the film seem more interesting. This is unfortunately what some of the music does at it seems out of place and really stupid.

Effects: Some of the CG just seems a little thrown together and detracts from the scene, which is never good. There is also an air of "how many monsters that fans will recognise can we fit in?" so a monster is used once then it's not really seen again, usually without using it to it's full effect. There is also a lack of shock factor, something generally wanted from a horror film. Things are introduced slowly, either by having them shuffle into shot out of focus, giving you time to see it and go "ooh what's that" or slowly panned onto so you can take it all in nicely. There is not "HOLY CRAP" when something abruptly appears accompanied by a load bang or something like that, a classic horror film technique abandoned. At times the film is stupidly gruesome, and by that I mean the gruesomeness is stupid. People having there skin ripped of is relatively icky, but being being pulled in half by barbed wire and generally mangled by it spraying blood left, right and indeed centre can get a little boring (or maybe I'm just a little desensitized). I think the worst effect involves the big sword guy (triangle head I believe he is called) thrusting his rather enormous appendage (his sword) through a metal door, which resembles poking a knife through a piece of paper in a very mechanical fashion. Oh and they decided to speed up some traffic right at the start to it looked faster, but it just looked stupid.

Length. This film is 2 hours long, which is 2 long (ho de ho ho), I found myself mostly bored with this film and wondering why I still owned it, I soon wont.

There is unfortunately a lot wrong with this film, I think it tried, as so many film adaptations do, to cash in on a franchise without really caring about the world the games have created. It may be that I'm bitter because I was excited about this film and bought it for £16 only to find it a shocking waste of money, but this is an appalling adaptation of Silent Hill, it adds a plot that is unoriginal and boring and then tries to stick bits of the Silent Hill world to it using really crap post-it notes that promptly fall off. I'm relatively sure that contracting the plague would be more enjoyable.

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