Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Quietly Elevating: Silent Hill


Videogames that transcend the small screens of our televisions to the large, silver panels often lack a connection to their roots.

"Super Mario Brothers" had goombas, but they were fat with small heads, not small with big heads as in the game.

"Resident Evil" had bad actors in make-up, not scary-ass zombies with a severe lack of face happening.

So it's often expected that any movie with a videogame tie-in will reflect mainly the idea, if not the actual image, of the franchise.

"Silent Hill", however, is an exception.

It captures the essence of the game in a very real way.

Unfortunately, that's not a good thing.

"Silent Hill" the game is about a cursed town full of disturbing images, bad voice-acting, cutting edge CGI, fog, and demons that make you long for the peaceful halls of "DOOM".

While playing the first game, I was overwhelmed by the atmosphere. The developers, working with the orignal Playstation, had opted for high visuals and low visibility--the infamous "fog"--but the effect was mind blowing.

The movie keeps the fog, and the darkness of the dungeons, and even keeps most of the standard enemies and bosses (such as Pyramid Head, the oddest and most perverted nemesis I've seen in years).

What doesn't work is the outcome. The game was disturbing and confusing at times. So is the movie.

But when I finished the game I felt the satisfaction of having completed a challenge.

When the movie ended, it had been a challenge to finish, but I was not satisfied.

The acting is standard for any videogame, ie poor. Radha Mitchell ("Finding Neverland") is hit or miss for some of her scenes, which can only be attributed to the director not knowing whether his character is freaked out or driven to find their daughter. She could have demons biting her feet one moment, and the next she'd say, deadpan, that she wasn't leaving until she found her adopted daughter.

NEWS FLASH: You can adopt other daughters! They're practically giving them away. And if you're real lucky, she'll be possessed in some form or another too, or perhaps she'll go into film and make an indie-flick that kills people in a week.

But I digress.

The script is passable, for a game, though it lacks any defining path from plot point to plot point. Actually...is there a plot in this movie? I mean, the whole mom-and-little girl thing is cute, but I'm reasonably sure that take-your-child-to-a-creepy-haunted-town day was a month ago.

The CGI is good, and I mean good, making the creatures pop out at you. Apparently they had contortionists play many of the demons to give them a creepy figure. It worked. I hadn't been so disturbed since "Se7en" showed us the fun of turning strap-ons into weapons.

Gore is abound, but not overdone--at least for the first half of the movie. There are later scenes where barbed wire is used innappropriately and in ways I can't describe on a public forum.

Let's just say that Mr. Pyramid Head has a little fun with the saying "beauty is only skin deep."

All in all, the film let me down. I was rooting for it the whole time, even through some terrible scenes and worse acting. I stuck with it, cheering on the director and scriptwriter. But then, suddenly, the credits popped up and I was left alone.

I really wanted this to be the movie that brought videogames to the next level, but alas, it is not so. "Silent Hill" is just another reason why people don't take gamers seriously.

This movie rates taking-Natalie Portman-out-for-a-romantic-evening-at-her-behest-only-to-have-her-say-she-just-wants-to-be-friends.

I, however, remain optimistic that the next movie based on a game will breach the surface of the Box Office. I see that day is far off, but it will come.

Unless no one has run down Uwe Boll in a Sears parking lot yet.

Speaking of which, can I borrow someone's car?

2 comments:

Eli Damatov said...

You can borrow my car if it means Uwe Boll will stop making films.

Sarah said...

personally, i really enjoyed this movie. I mean, it didn't blow my effin mind, but how rare is the film that does.

i didn't know it was based on a game, or maybe i did, but it didn't feel like that when i saw it. Now that you mention it, I can totally get the whole levels and level bosses feel to it, but either way, the movie was wonderfully freaky. after a time when all the scary movies were the grudge and other such crap, this was a breath of fresh air.

now, for the love of pete, will you go watch Night Watch. it's bonkers!

p.s. Kinky Boots...starring Serenity's Assassin....oh yes.