I’ve been excited about Silent Hill’s film adaptation for a while now since the early material seemed to be not-completely-rubbish and it has a decent pedigree, but when I agreed to see it earlier in the week the scariest thing about it was the complete lack of reviews. The first one didn’t even appear until Thursday and that’s generally a bad sign (as with games), but when that turned out to be positive I felt a bit more optimistic.
Still, I feel a kind of obligation to see game-based films so off I went earlier tonight, coupled with the lowest possible expectations. They generally serve me well with anything that I think might disappoint. Except that rubbish new Star Wars, of course.
Resident Evil and Silent Hill are oft-compared and the difference ultimately boils down to that RE is about jump scares and action while SH is psychological horror, and the same can be said of the movies. Resident Evil was adapted into an action movie whereas Silent Hill is a trippy and macabre film, aiming to constantly unsettle. Certain elements are borrowed from classic horror (to mention the one I’m thinking of would probably spoil things) but above anything else the style is taken from the games. This looks like the games and looks fantastic doing it, mainly because it’s frankly too dark to show the seams in the CG transitions between plain old creepy Silent Hill and its hellacious counterpart.
Those who aren’t familiar with the games may find it slightly cryptic until a sudden torrent of exposition towards the end (even storytelling methods are borrowed from games, apparently), and even then the end can leave you hanging. It’s fans who will get the most from it since, as I said, it looks like one of the games and squeals of delight are likely when old favourites like the Pyramid Head show up. There isn’t a lot of the red stuff until the end, but when it shows up it doesn’t do anything by half, with the triangled terror himself providing the gory standout.
My main criticism is the script and acting, as at the beginning in particular it’s fairly bad and Sean Bean puts on a really poor accent throughout. This aside though, it’s definitely the best game-to-movie that I’ve seen thanks to adherence to the source material and a respectful translation all around. Whether or not you like it depends a lot of whether seeing Silent Hill in film form is appealing, but as long as that’s what you expect you should have a good time.