Thursday, October 22, 2009

THE RETURN OF 31 DAYS OF HORROR: #22 Silent Hill


Silent Hill desperately wants to be an American Argento film. And it succeeds. Unfortunately, it succeeds in is emulating one of Argento’s post Opera disasters. Complete with an incomprehensible (and not in a good way) yet tirelessly expositioned storyline, luded out performances, unbearably talky stretches, buoyed only by the occasionally arresting bits of imagery that in the end is simply not enough. Frankly it makes Mother Of Tears look like Suspiria.

Directed by Christopher Ganz, maestro behind the equally talky and terrible, though much more beloved, Brotherhood Of The Wolf, there is perhaps forty minutes of a good movie trapped in the two hour prison of Silent Hill. The question of should you watch can be answered simply, is a 2 : 1 ratio good enough for you.

Radha Mitchell and Sean Bean’s (doing his best Liam Neeson) adopted daughter, played by the creepy girl from Tideland, is sleepwalking and screaming about Silent Hill. Deciding to feed into her psychosis Mitchell takes her there. To find that the town has been on fire for the last few of decades, filled with Demons, and thus understandably abandoned. Aside from the few "poor souls" who are trapped in a church and get to speak cryptically whilst cowering in fear. It turns out that like their ancestors before them the townsfolk enjoy burning witches and apart from witches "MORE WITCHES!" reminding us all that once upon a time Eric Idle was funny.

While this all might sound pretty simple, abandoned town, scary demons, witches, religious fanaticism and creepy little girl, Silent Hill decides to bury it underneath layers of “mythology” so that it becomes nigh, incomprehensible. After all why eerily imply something when you can bulldoze it into the ground?

The frustating thing about the movie is that forty minutes or so that works, really really works. The scene where Mitchel is attacked by a pack of mewling eternally burning infants infront of a crucified, bisected, but still living miner, is to put it mildly some freaky shit. You begin to doubt yourself and wonder how this movie could be bad? Then Mitchell has a long incomprehensible conversation with one of the peasant’s from Monty Python and The Holy Grail, and Sean Bean meets up with sergeant exposition and you remember.

Still even if later scares such as the faceless nurses, bondaged barbed wire guy, and two legged skin shrouded mother fuckers, seem cribbed from Jacob’s Ladder and Hellraiser it can still surprise you with a bit of what the fuck perversity like The Pyramid Head. The siren which announces that shit is about to get real is an inspired touch, and the sight of the town going from bad to worse whenever it sounds never gets old. Though for all the good it does it might as well announce that the movie is about to get good again. The town of Silent Hill is a suitably nightmarish setting for the movie. With it’s omnipresent rain of ash, and virtually non existent field of vision.

Still as freaky as this all is, the movie consistently defuses it's scares. When your horror movie climaxes with a fifteen minute expositional monologue delivered in a monotone you have gravely gone off course.

Readers this is a stupid stupid movie inhabited by stupid stupid people, who make the characters in Slaughter High look like the characters Bright Star. And though it’s intentions are good, and it’s effects occasionally unsettling, sometimes that’s just not enough.

4 comments:

Evil Dead Junkie said...

Oh and one more thing. If you thought the tree rape in Evil Dead was in poor taste you ain't seen nothing...

Adrenaline said...

The movie implies, you infer. Heh. I liked this film. Obviously flawed in a lot of ways, but I just wanted it to effectively convey the atmosphere of the games, and I think it does.

Evil Dead Junkie said...

Ha, corrected.

In all fairness I've never played the game, though I really do want to get my hands on Part 2 eventually. I think the movie was interesting in the way it tried to incorporate some elements of a videogame. Frequent over the shoulder and high angle shots. THe memorizing the map sequences. Even to a certain extent cut scenes. But it just illustrates how different film and Videogames really are.

Like I said The Siren Scenes reallyare nightmarish, it's just all the stuff around it.

Jay Clarke said...

I was just happy that the visual style of the Silent Hill games was translated perfectly. As for Brotherhood Of The Wolf, I thought it was a fantastic melding of monster movie, martial arts flick and period piece.