Saturday, April 29, 2006

Eeew! HELLO?! You call this floor clean?!

Just came home from watching Silent Hill in the mall. I don't normally watch horror movies for personal reasons but there was something about this one that got me excited. There's something about the story I still can't put my finger on that got me all in a tizzy. I didn't play the games and the only contact I had with its previous incarnation was when my best friend from college showed me one scene from the time he was playing it. I didn't think much of it since all I saw was his character moving up and down this darkened corridor with semi-transparent figures randomly appearing from out of the dark. He told me it was one of the scariest if not THE scariest game he ever played at the time. I took his word for it and ever since then I would just nod and agree without much consideration whenever friends who played the game would rave about it.

Then came the movie.

It's now my turn to rave. I'm reading and researching every website that contains information about the movie, the game, the references for the town of Silent Hill (Centralia, PA, a borough turned ghost town starting with the underground fires that started in 1962), reactions of other moviegoers, history and background of the game, the whole caboodle. The story, if you haven't seen it yet, centers around the recurring problem plaguing Sharon DaSilva (Jodelle Ferland) adopted daughter of Christopher (Sean Bean) and Rose Da Silva (Radha Mitchell). She wasn't only constantly sleepwalking thereby putting herself in mortal danger but she also keeps screaming the name "Silent Hill" in her sleep but she can't remember anything else when she awakes. Out of their wits' end, and probably their bank accounts too, Rose took Sharon with her without her husband's knowledge to visit the old town to somehow spur a memory in Sharon's mind that would finally clue them in to what the problem really was about. Along the way they aroused the suspicions of Police officer, Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden) who had a previous run in with a kidnapper who also brought a kid to Silent Hill and dumped him in a pit. She spent three days inside the pit with the kid before they were rescued and she obviously didn't want anything like it to happen again. She follows, they get into a short chase before the SUV Rose is driving crashes into something. She wakes up some hours later to find the door of the car wide open and Sharon missing. She runs to town in hopes of finding her but all she did was chase this little girl that strangely looks a lot like Sharon (or at least from the fleeting glimpse she gets the girl looks like her daughter). Her experience of the periodic darkness that envelopes the town along with the horrifying creatures running around scares the living daylights out of her but she eventually gets the hang of it after the second round (I've read a reaction somewhere that there was a bit of discrepancy with her character at this point. No disrespect meant to the reviewer, but that's missing the point. There were only two of them trapped in a world they know nothing about and if any one of them collapses in fear the other one naturally and automatically becomes strong for the other. Besides, Rose already witnessed the first darkness this was Cybil's first contact with the transformation). She attempts to make contact with her husband outside of town world but all he ever heard were bits of sentences that never made sense and a lot of static noises. Cybil arrests her after a period of being out and discovers on the road back to town that there is no road and there are these weird creatures with no heads spraying black acid from their chests running around. Meanwhile Rose runs out on Cybil and resumes her search in the local school based on a clue left inside her car. There she gets a bunch of other clues plus a run in with more strange creatures brought on by the darkness that would have consumed her if it wasn't for the timely appearance of Cybil. Then they make a beeline towards the local hotel where they encounter Anna (Tanya Allen) who brings them to the place of sanctuary, a church, when the next round of darkness fell but not before Rose gets more than a passing glimpse and an identity to the elusive little girl that strangely looks like Sharon. Inside the church cult leader, Christabella (Alice Krige) tells Rose that only the demon knows where her daughter is and they would be willing to take her there but not to expect to be able to return. They indeed take both protagonists to the entrance of the demon's lair at the basement of the hospital. But before Rose could enter the elevator the final piece of the puzzle was revealed which almost prevented her from going further.

Who was the main villain, really? The events leading to the climax actually reminds me of an old Stephen King movie, Carrie (other moviegoers made a list of what this reminds them of but this is enough for me). It basically has the same underlying theme: girl is an outsider, ridiculed by the people in her school (including some school authorities she thought she could trust), gets her revenge near the end of the story inside a huge dark meeting place, and a cultic maternal figure dies in a spectacular way involving some major piercings in different parts of her body. The only problem I have with this one is that they could have done away with the blood and gore. Maybe it was the studio's idea to include these scenes to satisfy horror fans but it's my opinion that they still could have pulled it off with the audience none the wiser. There's also this other idea I find amusing that horror film oveurs employ to hammer in the idea that you're watching one: the presence of religious symbols. That plus anything that would remind people of innocence lost like old abandoned schools, rotten baby carriages, etc. But overall my idea of hell is probably closer to the truth in this movie at least visually. But that's still not why this movie appeals to me, like what I said earlier, it's still something I can't figure out. There's also this other thing that bothers me which was voiced earlier by another moviegoer, why would the local ratings board rate this a PG-13 when a higher rating like the R-15 rating in the U.S. got should be called for? Although they shortened the gory scenes there are still enough disturbing scenes in the story that doesn't justify a rating closer to General Patronage. Doesn't that lead to these young folks being desensitized to others being tormented and suffering? A proper rating and warning next time people. In any case the story made an impact on you as it did on me you might take a liking to watching a short documentary video about the making of the movie (Length: 4:45):

Kudos to Director Christophe Gans, the crew in charge of the production design, the crew in charge of the production design and art direction, and the actors who portrayed the monsters in the film, they indeed were as creepy as they were fascinating to watch. Props also to screenwriter, Roger Avary for coming up with an awesome adaptation of the game. There are still a lot of things I haven't covered in this reactionary post to the movie which I think should be left to personal discussions (Hollywood Jesus' Brian Dedmon's review is worth looking into for some valid points he raised). I'll probably watch this movie again to make sense of other elements I might have missed particularly with regards to the ending.

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.

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