Last week, during the Video Game Awards, they showed a rather lengthy trailer for “Death Stranding” the new video game from Hideo Kojima featuring Norman Reedus (Walking Dead) and Guillermo Del Toro. While I’m cautiously excited for that game, it got me thinking about the now dead “Silent Hills” game that had lit the world on fire for a very brief time before being unceremoniously put down. It’s immensely disappointing that we may never get a new “Silent Hill” game, but it’s even more unfortunate that we never got a proper film adaptation. However, now that five years have passed, maybe it’s time to return to the eerie town of Silent Hill.
So before we can look to the future, we must look at the past! So far we’ve had two American-made “Silent Hill” films that have taken a crack at the rich narrative of the games, and both have missed the mark when it comes to representing them on screen. However, when talking about the “Silent Hill” films, I think it’s a common sentiment that while the films are not good they are definitely visually impressive. It’s like they’re halfway there to being the next best horror franchise, so I definitely think there’s justification for giving it one more shot and taking a second stab at the franchise. But what steps should they take to ensure that the next entry is the best one? I’m glad you asked . . .
Take it Back to the Core
There was nothing inherently wrong with focusing on Rose, the wife of Harry Mason in the first film, instead of Harry who was the original protagonist. For the most part, the main character in the first Silent Hill game is designed to be a blank template to make it easier for the player to project themselves on him. Following that logic, it really doesn’t impact the story to have either Harry or Rose portray the main role. Personally, I’d love to see more horror movies centered on the relationship between a father and daughter. The female protagonist trying to save her children trope is a bit played out, so seeing Harry Mason deal with the bullshit of Silent Hill in order to find out the truth about his daughter has a certain emotional weight to it that you don’t normally see. This is mostly a personal preference, but it would be nice to see Harry Mason finally get his due rather than be regulated to a jobber who he gets jerked around like he did in both “Silent Hill” films.
I’d hate to retread the first two films so quickly, but really, the best story to explore in the “Silent Hill” series is part one and three. In one we see Harry trying to save his daughter and winds up rescuing a child from a cult. In part three we see that child all grown attempting to avenge her adoptive father Mason by taking on the cult. It’s a perfect pairing of films and, personally, the strongest opening you can present to the “Silent Hill” universe. It’s unfortunate that these two story threads served as a loose basis for the first two films already, though, as it might be hard to repackage them. Another option would be to tell the story of “Silent Hill 2” which actually uses the iconic monsters of the series and is also a rather good stand-alone story. In fact, if we were only ever guaranteed one last shot at “Silent Hill” it probably should be the story of “Silent Hill 2.”
Make the Monsters Matter Again
The sexy mutilated nurses and Pyramid Head have become defining features of the “Silent Hill” series, but in reality they only truly matter in one game. Well, one good game. They’re cool visual characters, but what makes the “Silent Hill” games so fascinating is that the monsters usually reflect the psyche of the main character. For example, the sexy nurses come from “Silent Hill 2” where the main character was dealing with his infidelity from when his wife was sick in the hospital. See how much more meaningful it is for that character to deal with that kind of monster rather than a mother trying to save her daughter?
In the first game a lot of the creatures are influenced by some of the fears of Alessa, a child in the first game who shares a connection with Mason’s daughter. So you get a lot of monsters that a child would be afraid of like mutilated dogs, bugs, non-sexy nurses, doctors, other kids, and so on. Then there’s the fact that the whole game revolves around a crazy cult trying to summon an incubus who they believe is their god. So, yeah, a new movie should embrace the idea that the monsters should be connected to the core story and more than just eye candy. The games have a rich selection of creatures that should ensure that they don’t have to fall back on exposed nurses for a cheap thrill.
Keep the Visual Flair of the First Film
I can’t stress this enough. The first movie is strikingly beautiful. The oppressive fog envelopes the city and adds a constant state of dread and uncertainty. Then there’s the constantly falling ash which makes is haunting. And, of course, we can’t forget the best part of the movie: when the town transitions from Silent Hill into a nightmarish landscape.
And, coincidentally that scene features one of the few original monsters created for the film and you know what? It looks rad as hell. The second film “Silent Hill Revelations” also featured some pretty striking visuals, but also some God awful ’00s CGI. Like that weird mannequin monster.
I don’t expect some to completely crib the look and feel of the original film, but they would be smart to use it as a template as it’s the primary thing that people love about it and it does manage to capture a lot of the eerie elements from the game. In fact, I would say that the look of “Silent Hill” is more of a defining feature of the films than something like Pyramid Head.
Screw Konami- Make ‘Silent Hills’ Into a Movie
Okay so let’s say someone decides to make a new “Silent Hill” movie, but they don’t want to have anything to do with the first two movies or the stories they were trying to tell. Fine, then the what they should do is look into “Silent Hills” and find out how to turn that into a movie. We’re talking about a game that had the insane input of Hideo Kojima, Guillermo Del Toro, and horror manga creator Junji Ito. This is a powerful trio of story tellers who could easily craft a hellish nightmare. Some of their ideas may now live on in “Death Stranding” but surely there are concepts in Silent Hills that are dying to see the light of day and a new movie would be the perfect way to set them free.
What do you think? Want to see a new “Silent Hill” movie? What would be your approach at bringing it back to the big screen?