Silent Hill

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Rose and her husband, Christopher Da Silva, are concerned about their adopted daughter, 9-year old Sharon, who has been sleepwalking while calling the name of a town, “Silent Hill”. Desperate for answers, Rose takes Sharon to Silent Hill. As they approach the town, she is pursued by police officer Cybil Bennett. A child appears in the road, causing Rose to swerve and crash the car, knocking herself unconscious. When she awakens, Sharon is missing, while fog and falling ash blanket the town.

Rose wanders the empty streets of Silent Hill looking for her daughter and instead encounters monsters. Rose meets a woman named Dahlia Gillespie who speaks of her own daughter, Alessa, being abused by the townspeople and, upon seeing a photo of Sharon in the locket around Rose’s neck, claims that Sharon is Alessa. Rose returns to her car and runs into Cybil, who arrests her. As they head back to the road out of the city, they discover that the road is cut by a huge fracture, so they pair up to search the town, only to be confronted by a humanoid creature, which is shot by Cybil.

Meanwhile, Christopher also simultaneously scours the town, shown to be abandoned and without mist and falling ash as it is to Rose and Cybil, with the assistance of officer Thomas Gucci, who is there in search of the missing Cybil. Christopher discovers documents revealing that the town was abandoned after a coal seam fire thirty years ago, along with a photograph of Dahlia’s daughter, who bears a strong physical resemblance to Sharon. Told to stop investigating under threat of incarceration, he returns home.

Rose and Cybil meet Anna, a woman who leads them to a local church for refuge. As they approach it, Anna is killed by the monster Pyramid Head. In the church, Rose and Cybil discover a cult headed by a woman named Christabella. Christabella tells Rose about a “demon” who knows Sharon’s whereabouts. After convincing Christabella to help them locate the “demon”, Rose and Cybil are taken to a local hospital. There, Christabella also sees the photo of Sharon in Rose’s locket and, seeing the likeness between Sharon and Alessa, condemns Rose and Cybil as witches. Cybil is captured by the townspeople while Rose descends into the hospital basement. There, Rose encounters a burned Alessa on a bed and Dark Alessa, the incarnation of the dark side of Alessa’s soul.

In a flashback, Rose discovers that Silent Hill had a long history of witch burnings, stemming from the cult’s beliefs. Thirty years before Rose’s arrival, Alessa was stigmatized for having been born out of wedlock by an unknown father; her schoolmates bullied her, while the adults made no effort to protect her. Dahlia agreed to Christabella’s suggestion that she allow the cult to “restore innocence” in Alessa. When not allowed to follow Alessa into the ritual, Dahlia realized that they intended to kill her daughter and ran to the police.

Alessa was ritually burned, but in the midst of the ritual, a fire accidentally burst out. When Dahlia returned with the police, Alessa was badly burned, but alive. While in the hospital, Alessa’s pain and rage caused her dark side to manifest in the form of a duplicate of herself, an incarnation of the darkness of her soul. Rose learns that Sharon is the manifestation of Alessa’s remaining innocence and goodness. After the flashback, Rose is told that she must aid Alessa in her revenge by granting her entry into the church and that Christabella will soon find Sharon and attempt to burn her as well.

Rose enters the church after Cybil has just been burned alive by the townspeople, and Sharon is about to suffer a similar fate. She confronts Christabella with her knowledge of the truth, attempting to convince the cult that they are in denial of their own fate. Christabella stabs Rose, causing her blood to drip onto the church floor. The blood serves as a portal, which Alessa rises out of. Alessa captures Christabella in barbed wire. The barbed wire snakes up Christabella’s skirt, penetrating her and ripping her apart. The townspeople are also killed, leaving Dahlia, Rose, and Sharon the only survivors. At the end of the massacre, Alessa and Sharon fuse and become one person again.

As they leave the town, they discover that the abyss and the fracture is gone, allowing them to leave Silent Hill, while Dahlia stays behind. Meanwhile, Christopher returns home and falls asleep on the couch. He wakes up just as Rose and Sharon/Alessa return home, but they arrive in the foggy, Silent Hill version of the home, while Christopher sees rain and sunshine, indicating that Rose and Sharon/Alessa are still trapped in the Silent Hill dimension.

REVIEW:

Lauded as one of the best video game movies, Silent Hill is actually a solid entry into both the video game movie and horror genres. Having only briefly played the game, I can’t really compare it to the source material, but I hear it is “decently close” to it from a couple of friends who frequent this game genre.

What is this film about?

Rose takes her adopted daughter, Sharon, to Silent Hill to find out why the ghost town has been appearing in the girl’s nightmares. When Sharon goes missing after a car crash, Rose sets off on a hellish search to find her.

What did I like?

Atmosphere. One of the things that many horror films these day miss is the creepy atmosphere. I mean, here we have this abandoned town engulfed in smoke, fog, and ash. You don’t get much creepier than that. In comparison, most of today’s horror films take place in these nice neighborhoods that none of us live in, or on the beach. Seriously, who is scared of spending time on the beach?

Pyramid head. One of the few things I know about the game is Pyramid Head, so I was glad that they actually used him in the film, and without using too much of the guy. The filmmaker gave us just enough to appease the fans, justify having him in there, and make him terrifying.

Twilight Zone. I seem to remember an episode of The Twilight Zone where a man was in one building and his family was in the same building, but they couldn’t touch/hear each other because of them being in what turned out to be different dimensions. The same idea is prevalent here once Alessa, her mom, and inadvertently, the motorcycle cop (Walking Dead fans may recognize her) go into Silent Hill and are never seen in this dimension again. This is made clear by the phone calls, the fact the Sean Bean’s character say he feels them, and the final scene. One must wonder, is this an alternate dimension, or are they dead?

What didn’t I like?

Where’s my controller? I was sitting here watching this and it really felt like I was playing the game, which for me is almost a prerequisite when it comes to video game films. However, I can hear those old fuddy duddy movie critics clamoring for more of a cohesive plot, and they do have a point. Truth be told, unless you are paying strict attention, you may get lost with everything that is going on.

Length. I’m a little biased, as I am clearly no fan of lengthy films, but this one seems to be overly long, and for no real purpose. Does the extra time move the story along or present a new idea? No, it just serves to bog the picture down with more stuff that have no idea about, thus making what could really be a great film, just good.

Hit or miss. The special effects are hit or miss with this film. In some instances, they are great, but in others, such as the final scene, they aren’t so great. No, they aren’t quite Syfy channel bad, but it is obvious some effects got more attention than others. A little consistency would have been nice, people! That’s all I’m saying because you have a woman burned alive and it looks real, then a young child comes from beneath the ground with barbed wire tentacles that leave trail of death and gore never seen before, and yet, the fatalities in the early Mortal Kombat games seemed more realistic and believable than all this.

It was a dark and stormy night when I first saw Silent Hill. Man, that was back when I went to see movies at night. I’ve gotten cheap smart since then. At any rate, for those of you out there looking for a film that will appease both your horror and suspense appetites, this is sure to be the film for you. I highly recommend it, so give it a chance. You might be pleasantly surprised.

4 out of 5 stars

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