31 Days of Guilty Pleasures – ‘Silent HIll’

Jason McDonald

A few years ago I did a daily countdown to Halloween that featured some of my favorite scares from 31 different horror movies. This year I’m bringing back the feature, but this time we’re taking a look at some of my favorite guilty pleasures.

There’s no rhyme or reason to how these movies are being listed, so the placement on the countdown doesn’t denote any sort of ranking. Also, my definition of guilty pleasure is a movie that ranges from either being not very good to outright bad, but there’s something about it that still makes it endearing to watch.

Few films fill me with sympathy regret as much as “Silent Hill” does.  As a video game fan still desperately waiting for a good adaptation of something I like, this film came so damn close to accomplishing that.

“Silent Hill” was adapted from the classic PlayStation game of the same name that was originally released in 1999.  However, the film went for an alternative take on the events of the game.  The story finds a mother with a troubled little girl who is plagued by dreams of a place called Silent Hill.  Wanting to get to the bottom of the mystery, she takes her daughter to the town of Silent Hill to find out what’s going on.  Unfortunately, she comes to learn that the town is cursed by paranormal shenanigans.

Spearheading the adaption of the game was director Christophe Gans. Apparently it was Gans who willed “Silent Hill” to life by constantly campaigning for the movie.  Over the course of five years Gans was making repeated attempts at pitching the idea of making a “Silent Hill” movie to Konami. This would’ve been around the time of “Silent Hill 3” and “Silent Hill 4”, back when Konami still cared about their game franchise.  So when they finally gave Gans their permission, I have to imagine it was with the intent of him making a good movie and not just a quick cash-in. Given how dedicated Gans was to the project, it bums me out that it turned out the way it did.

Despite being a self-reported fan of the “Silent Hill” series, Gans made a huge mistake with how he handled the adaptation of the story.  One of the key things about “Silent Hill” is that the nightmarish creatures you find are a reflection of your psyche.  Unfortunately, the more iconic Silent Hill creatures are in “Silent Hill 2.” That’s the game where you get creatures like Pyramid Head and the sexy nurses.  That game is all about sexuality, so it makes sense for the nurses to look kind of hot and for Pyramid Head to be this buff crazy looking creature.  Having them featured in this movie doesn’t make any sense at all because they have no connection to the story.

That being said, their inclusion does result in some really cool moments.  First is that scene where Rose has to try and navigate through the mass of twitching nurses.

Then of course there’s the scene where Pyramid Head rips the flesh off that one woman and throws a pile of skin meat at the church doors. It’s so metal.

I’m no doctor, but I think that has to be physically impossible. Still, it’s an awesome scene and probably the one people remember the most.

Unfortunately, the movie suffers from having a so-so story and poorly written characters.  It’s the kind of movie that should be watched and not heard because just about everything else in this movie is great.  In terms of visuals Gans and his crew perfectly captured the spirit of the “Silent Hill” games and their creature designs were fantastic.  Even the monster they made up for the movie feels like it would fit in perfectly in a “Silent Hill” game. Check out this twisted looking janitor.

In this scene you’ll also notice one of the coolest things about the movie, it’s the transition from the normal world to the hellish version of Silent Hill.  The way the world around Rose melts away to reveal rusted metal and decaying environments is striking and kind of beautiful.  In fact it was so cool that Konami worked it back into their video games.

There’s an anecdote that the developers behind “Silent Hill: Homecoming” got the job purely based on how good their tech looked when the world dissolved away.  And it does indeed look awesome.  It’s unfortunate that their tech was the only good thing about that game. Check out the scene where it happens for the first time below. Notice that it also takes place in a bathroom?

Sadly the legacy of the “Silent Hill” movie will be that it was another failed video game adaptation. In reality, the movie has a lot more to offer.  It’s a visual experience that should be experienced and appreciated at least once.

1 Comment

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      1. Stig Riesto October 15, 2018 at 9:53 pm

        I think you summed up most of this movie’s failures perfectly, but there’s loads more..

        Firstly, the director clearly has a feminist agenda. The game centers around a faher desperately searching for his daughter, literally going through hell and facing off with an evil god to save his daughter. The director of the movie calls him “feminine”! And changes Harry to Rose..

        Alessa’s mother, Dahlia, is the wicked witch leader of the PAGAN cult in the game and sacrifices her daughter in order to unleash hell on earth, literally. The director changes her into a loving mother and creates another leader for the cult, because “duh, mothers are good”!

        Speaking of the cult.. It was pagan, not a witch-burning christian sect! smfh
        And yeah, back to the feminist aspect. As previously mentioned, the director changed the protagonist’s gender, but there’s lots more to it:

        At first, there were zero male characters in the movie! Yes, you read that correcctly. The studio had to force him to add some male characters. He did. He threw in a couple of really unlikeble assoles.. The father figure was a dick who didn’t care for his daughter, completely opposite from his game counterpart..

        Also, Dark Alessa doesn’t exist in the game. In the movie she’s literally the Devil.. In the game Alessa is an abused girl, plain and simple.

        In short, the movie made me ashamed to be a Silent Hill fan!

        Sure, they got all the visuals down to a T, but none of that matters when they completely twisted the story and symbolism. No-one who saw this movie got any real understanding of the gretest horror game series ever, because of these changes. And frankly, that sucks!

        Yes, this is the greatest video game adaption ever, sadly..

        You wanna watch a better SH adaption? There’s an animated fan film on youtube titled “Silent Hill: No Escape” It’s highly recommended 😉