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Vern’s Been To SILENT HILL!!


Hi, everyone. “Moriarty” here with some Rumblings From The Lab…

And so has Quint and, to my great pleasure, so have I. I’m not sure when Quint’s going to write about it, or even if he is, but I’ve got some things to say, and I’ll do my best to get them on paper before I head to bed. For now, though, here’s the one and only Vern, and he and I are really in tune today, since he seems to have reacted much the same way I did:

I’m not gonna lie. If you’re reading this, you probaly shouldn’t see this movie. I’m betting 95% of you who do are gonna hate it. At the screening I saw it at, people were laughing and loudly criticizing (and for some reason one crazy dude was naming the makes and years of the cars parked on the streets). The people I saw it with, who were more polite, said it was a huge pile of shit.

And in some ways they got a point. The dialogue in this movie is terrible. (Apparently that wasn’t Roger Avary’s job on PULP FICTION). It’s best when it’s just about running around facing creepy obstacles. The more it gets into plot and conversations, the more it loses its momentum. It’s pretty muddled and confusing and has an awkward explanatory narration near the end and like most of the movies by this director, the frenchman Christophe Gans, it’s probaly too long. (By the way, I looked it up and Christophe Gans is NOT Chris Gaines, that famous singer who looked exactly like Garth Brooks but with a soul patch. I know, I thought so too but let’s clear up that misconception right here.)

Silent HillAlso there’s a cop lady in here that has a pretty ridiculous movie star look that is not believable as a real cop. I don’t care if this is based on a video game, that was hard to take.

So you will have a point about that stuff but as far as the rest of the movie, you’ll be wrong. You motherfuckers are too literal. This is not a movie for people who think literally.

The movie starts abruptly and weirdly with two parents chasing after their sleepwalking daughter in the middle of the night. She’s mumbling weird shit and has somehow walked to the other side of a cliff with a roaring waterfall. It reminds me of when the kid sleepwalks out onto the freeway in WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE (by Wes Craven) and even if it didn’t, I would assume it’s going to turn out to be a dream. But it doesn’t. And you stay off balance for the whole movie.

Turns out the girl is adopted, and she keeps mumbling things in her sleep about a ghost town called Silent Hill, but when she wakes up she doesn’t remember saying it. So her mom decides to take her to this place to see if it jogs her memory.

Even before they get to this weird town (which, contrary to normal horror movie convention, doesn’t take long at all) the mom is doing weird illogical things like leading a motorcycle cop on a high speed chase and crashing right through the front gate of the closed off town. By this point it has probaly already lost most of the audience but for me it’s where I got hooked. As soon as they get to the town the sky is snowing ashes and the little girl runs away, and for most of the movie the mom will be chasing her like Alice chasing Bugs Bunny or the Easter bunny or whoever it was.

Alice in Wonderland is a good comparison because this is not a movie about ordinary human logic. Only dream logic applies. The surreal vibe of SILENT HILL reminded me of a movie I like called INFERNO, by that freaky Italian sicko Dario Argento. Stylistically they’re nothing the same, but that’s another movie where nobody does what real people would do but they do what you would do if you were in a dream. So for example a gal drops a key into a little puddle and she reaches in and it turns out to be a really deep puddle, so without much hesitation she dives into the puddle and finds herself swimming around in a room completely submerged in water, where she finds a dead body. (Later there is one of the craziest fucking scenes I’ve ever seen, involving an old man on crutches, a bag of cats, some hungry rats and the sudden appearance of an unhelpful meat vendor.) If you for one second question why the gal would dive in after the key, or why the mom in this movie would pull a note out of the mouth of a mutilated corpse she finds wrapped in barbed wire sitting on a toilet, you should not watch INFERNO and you should not watch SILENT HILL. That’s the test.

The first part of the movie is especially great because there’s not very much talking and there’s a whole lot of atmosphere. With some exceptions, most of the score is very subdued and eerie, and there’s some points where it seems to blend into the creepy ambient sounds so you’re not even sure if you’re hearing music or some weird machine chugging away in the distance. There’s a really brilliant sequence where the mom chases the daughter through the town as it turns into Hell and crazy nightmare shit starts to happen. Let’s just say that she is mobbed by crying, freaky babies burning from the inside. And that’s just for breakfast. There are much weirder things that are gonna happen later.

Even after you hate this movie please at least acknowledge that it is full of amazing visuals and crazy imagination. There are bizarre, fucked up images in this movie like I haven’t seen since HELLRAISER, and at times beyond that. I’m pretty sure this is one of the first movies this year to include a scene where two women hide in a room while a guy with a huge metal pyramid on his head stabs through the wall with a six-foot machete and a swarm of giant roaches with almost human faces swarm in through the holes. If not it is still one of the best scenes of that type.

I don’t know, maybe it wouldn’t seem as insane if I was familiar with the source material. They say this is based on a video game, and that makes sense. Alot of the movie is like running through a big maze (like Pac-Man) and there are also ghosts (like Pac-Man). But there are no barrels that they have to jump over so alot of video gamers might have a problem with that. But I disagree I think barrel jumping would not really fit in to the tone of the movie in my opinion.

I admit, this is sort of one of those movies that as it gets to the last third and tries to both get crazier and tie things together so you might possibly understand what the hell’s going on, it starts to lose me. I had that problem with PRINCE OF DARKNESS and LIFEFORCE and IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS and not quite as much with this one. At the end they start talking more, and there are some lines that are some real groaners but when the movie is good it’s real fuckin good so I am willing to forgive that. At least it’s not dubbed like the Argento movies I was talking about earlier.

Maybe the biggest sin is whenever they cut to the subplot about the husband and a cop trying to find the missing ladies. It’s not terrible but there’s really no reason to cut away from the crazy shit and bore us with the real world. It takes you out of the story and like I said the movie feels a little long, and probaly wouldn’t if you dumped all that useless shit. (I wasn’t surprised when somebody told me it was not originally in the movie but was added at the insistence of some studio fool who thought there should be more men in the movie. What, the pyramid head guy isn’t a good enough representation of our gender?)

Okay, so this movie is flawed and it will most likely be widely hated, and for a Christophe Gans movie it is surprisingly lacking in Mark Dacascos, the poor man’s Brandon Lee. But I for one applaud these weirdos for making a non-jokey, completely bizarre and fucked up nightmare of a movie. You gotta at least admit it’s the best video game based movie so far and will probaly continue to be at least until PAC-MAN: RESURRECTION and BURGER TIME: APOCALYPSE come out.

Dear Christophe and Roger, don’t give up, there’s one or two of us out here on your wavelength. I heard some guy walking out of the theater saying it was “awesome” and I think he may have been talking about the movie and not something else. So that would make at least two people liked this one. Please get a sequel going before some asshole says something. Me and that guy want to see more crazy shit.

thanks boys

your friend,


As always, Vern, you said it better than I ever will. Great stuff.

“Moriarty” out.

Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/23086

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This entry was posted on Friday, April 21st, 2006 at 7:45 am and is filed under AICN, Horror, Reviews, Videogame. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

10 Responses to “Vern’s Been To SILENT HILL!!”

  1. CordwainerBirdIII

    August 14th, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Gotta’ side with you here Vern. I recognize all the legitimate complaints most had, but like you I was so impressed with it visually, and by it’s sheer weirdness, I bought the Blu-Ray of it.

  2. Gotta second the above comment (though I don’t own Blue-Ray, so strike that) just because I was JUST posting about INFERNO over in the G.I. Joe review (of all fool places) and it made me think of this movie, another example of the sort of movie where things which would conventionally make a movie “good” (plot, acting, writing) are completely unimportant next to the ability to reach down into your subconscious and really hit you
    on a level that you can never really expect.

    I don’t know that I think the script is awful here, per se, but it really seems to kinda be fighting the dreamy, surreal style of the film as it labors to explain everything. I’d also like to say that I think the acting in the movie is brilliantly bizarre — I think they are purposely trying to act like the CG video game characters, who look and act “sort of” human to really creepy, nightmareish effect. I’d love to see Gans work in this genre again, though, especially if he’s interested in doing something with a little more abstract script.

  3. Hmm, yes. Just saw this. In retrospect it was great up until they reached the church. I should have turned it off at that point, because they quickly burned through all the credibility they’d earned.

  4. I know Vern doesn’t the video games, but Silent Hill 1-3 are excellent, Silent Hill 2 in particular is a work of art

    the games are also veeeeery surreal, they don’t even try to seem like they take place in the real world like the movie does (that’s because they technically don’t take place in the real world, but alternate dimensions you see)

  5. I liked this one. Best videogame movie ever.

  6. Before I delete this spam I gotta note for the record that it used the screen name “rainbow and unicorn game touch to chase your dreams again.”

  7. Sounds like an euphemism for masturbation. Especially the part about touching a unicorn.

  8. In Vern’s book YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER! his introduction to the section on horror movies says that in this section he will review, among other things, “a widely hated video game adaptation that I thought was really good.” However, no such movie is reviewed in that section – presumably it was cut out for length but the introduction wasn’t updated to match.

    So I’ve long wondered which movie review had been intended for that slot. I guessed it was maybe some Uwe Boll movie. But now I’m pretty sure it was SILENT HILL.

  9. I never realized that happened! I remember we had to make some cuts for length, there was some squabbling over removing some Kevin Smith disses in LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD and the legal department would not let me include the PAPARAZZI review at all because it was based on the premise that Mel Gibson may have committed a series of vigilante murders during the filming of LETHAL WEAPON 2. Seriously. But yes, the video game review would definitely have to be SILENT HILL.

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