Losing myself in vacant alleyways filled with a cloudy mist hovering over the strangely majestic town of Silent Hill became a nightly routine when I fell upon the video game. My connection to the game might be personal because I once lived in Maine, and remember it feeling like Silent Hill, or the story was just outright creepy. It’s probably both.
Silent Hill Video Game Trilogy
Being a fan of Resident Evil, it was no surprise that I would enjoy playing Silent Hill. What I wasn’t expecting was to become fixated with the trilogy, and still be fixated on it today. Just like the Resident Evil movies, I relished in the Silent Hill movies that followed.
You’re probably cursing my name again, but I’ll justify why the movie is enjoyable, but also does harm to what the creators did for the best horror video game franchise later.
Silent Hill 1, 2, 3, and 4 are masterpieces, while some might argue 4 was a miss, the games that followed didn’t quite understand what the trilogy was creating, and that’s probably because Silent Hill was given to us westerners. And just like most things, we shat all over it to make ‘awesome’ graphics and fight sequences which did nothing for the narrative of Silent Hill. The video game was a storytelling masterpiece that didn’t deserve to be treated as any little horror video game.
Look, Silent Hill: Homecoming (2008) and Silent Hill: Downpour (2012) were entertaining games, but they weren’t Silent Hill. When you feature the lead singer of Korn, (Sorry if you like Korn), for the theme song of a game instead of embracing the sinister melancholy tunes of the Silent Hill soundtrack from the previous titles, you’re a fool. The music adds to the ambiance and continues to tingle your senses.
Silent Hill the Game
Released in 1999, Silent Hill uses a third-person view with the character of Henry Manson. He is in search of his adopted daughter, who he loses in the small-town of Silent Hill located in Maine.
Henry crosses path with the locals and discovers the cult is trying to awaken the deity whom they worship. To his dismay, they need his daughter, Cheryl, for the ritual. As I always suggest, you really should play the game.
The graphics are outdated, it was 1999 after all, but it holds its ground. The monsters still give me chills, and if you’ve played the Japnese version, it’s even scarier. When the game was first released in the USA, one of the monsters, which are burned children running after you in the level of the school, had to be morphed into some sort of sloth looking monsters for censorship.
Silent Hill the Film, 2006
The film follows aspects of the game; however, to my disappointment, it doesn’t take place in Maine, and Henry is Rose Da Silva. Why? The director, Christophe Gans, said Henry never acted like a ‘man’ in the video game. He was always fainting and talking to himself, was screaming too much. He thought he was being truthful to the game by replacing the protagonist with a female.
I am not sure what kind of wack response was that, but it isn’t a good one. The actress, Radha Mitchell, who plays Rose, does a fabulous job. She emotes, is relatable, and sucks you in.
My number one problem with this movie is the director using monsters from other games within the Silent Hill trilogy that make no sense or add any value to the storyline. Pyramid Headfirst appeared in Silent Hill 2. The game is a different storyline but still takes place in the same city.
You see, Pyramid Head is a manifestation of James Sunderland’s need to be punished because of his sexual obsession and deadly secret you find out at the end of the game. James even stumbles upon Pyramid Head sexually assaulting two live mannequins and then killing them. Foreshadowing and flashback anyone?
Can someone explain to me why the monster was featured as a ‘protector’ in the movie? Look, when Pyramind Head first appears in the film, he is badass from him dragging his huge knife around to pulling off the flesh of a live human being, it’s hardcore, scary, shocking, but doesn’t add to the story.
Pyramid Head is one of the most complex monsters to the Silent Hill trilogy, and the movie completely disregarded that and turned it into an instrument of vengeance. Eh…why?! Did you know that Pyramid Head’s headpiece is inspired by Lippisch P.13a? So it’s a Nazi warplane monster with muscular features. That’s pretty dark.
He’s basically the black negating force that is drop-dead chilling. While he might look like an executioner, he is a part of James’ consciousness. James wants to be punished because not only was he driven by his sexual desires, but he also killed his wife. Spoiler alert! I am telling you the play at least the first three games. You will not be disappointed.
I could go on, but his appearances, even in other games, don’t make any sense. I don’t want to go too far into detail because James’ storyline and monsters can be very complex. Hardcore fans would probably appreciate a more in-depth dissection of the character.
Sean Bean in Silent Hill
Did I forget to mention that Sean Bean is one of the protagonists in the movie? His character, otherwise known as Christopher in the film, doesn’t die! Isn’t that a damn shocker? He is even is a lead in the second film. Yes, there is a Silent Hill 2 movie that follows the Silent Hill 3 game.
Bean’s character acts more like Henry, even though Rose is supposed to be the replacement of Henry. Are you lost yet? I won’t get started on the Silent Hill 2 movie, Silent Hill: Revelation, but the first Silent Hill movie might be the closest you can get to a decent video game movie. Remember that horrible, Doom film? Yeah, I, unfortunately, do too.
So why does Silent Hill work? The look and feel are almost like playing the video game. The misty, rundown streets of Silent Hill come alive as the director did something right with also using the soundtrack of the video game for the film.
If you didn’t play the video games, I am almost positive you’d enjoy the movie for the atmosphere and ludicrous cult of the First Order. I won’t compare the film to Ari Aster’s Midsommar or Hereditary, but if you liked those, you’d take pleasure is the first Silent Hill movie.
blanca zarran says
Leah are wrote all this about Silent Hill? Wow! you are wonderful writer. Congratulation.
Great article! Going through the Silent Hill history made me sad that we won’t see the Kohima/Del Toro version of ‘Silent Hills’
Great article. I’ve just watched No 1 but now you have me Thirsty for more!!
Bryce Hanson says
Cool! There a bunch of sequels too.
Not only is this article very poorly written, but the author claims to love the Silent Hill games but gets even basic information about them wrong. FYI: The protagonist of the first game was Harry Mason, NOT Henry Manson. There’s no excuse for a “journalist” (lol) to make blatant errors like this, especially when Google is just a click away.
David Day says
So nice to hear from you, Dolemite! These aren’t journalists, they aren’t paid, they are just passionate fans who write because they are excited about a topic. Sorry for getting some spelling wrong.
Jacob Miller says
Glaring ignorance aside, this is the furthest thing from a decent adaptation. A few familiar monsters, namedrops, and locations don’t make something an adaptation, rather more of a gimmick. This movie is nothing more than that, a gimmick toward fans to lure them into a false sense of appeasement.
You have an irrelevant narrative that disregards everything from the original story and instead relies on some cheap witch-burning storyline that is more about puritans burning people than an actual witch or witchcraft.
You have characters that are relevant in name alone and are changed drastically to fit this obnoxious Director’s plot. Had he even paid attention to the plot? I am not sure. He made Harry into a woman for sexist reasons, made Dahlia into a groveling, mourning mother, turned Lisa into a cameo, and made Alessa into an antagonist.
As for the “feel”, a foggy, abandoned street, some rust, and familiar monsters a Silent Hill game does not make. We barely get a sense of dread, isolation, or that unsettling creepiness, rather every scene lacks subtlety, creep factor, or that psychological aspects we saw in the game. If anything, this is more of a polished fan film that thinks it knows Silent Hill when, in actuality, it knows nothing more than shallow Silent Hill 2 elements.
This director fails to understand Silent Hill, horror filmmaking, or tell an interesting story, rather relies on tropes, shallow familiarity, and flawed storytelling. He is not the messiah of video game adaptations but another director who fails to understand the source material.