Review – Why “Silent Hill” Does Everything Right
I have always adored this film, since the first time it came out in 2006. Not to be confused with the video game, this is the feature film that follows a similar plot from the game. I have a lot to say about this film, so let me quickly break it down. This film follows a mother and her adopted daughter. The daughter, Sharon, sleepwalks and cries out “Silent Hill” while she’s sleeping. The mother decides to get to the bottom of it, and leaves her husband, Sean Bean, behind, and drives to Silent Hill. On the way, a female motorcycle cop tails her, and they all end up stuck in the town, forced to battle monsters and understand Sharon’s connection to the place while uncovering it’s very fucked up history. My only claim to fame is the detail of the coal mine fire still burning underground, causing the ashes to fall like snowflakes; a direct link to Centralia, PA. Although, ashes don’t really fall like snowflakes. Anyway, back to the show.
This film includes so many wonderful details that enhance the story and make it truly terrifying to watch. Let’s begin with the big question. When did Rose and Sharon enter the Silent Hill dimension, when are they able to get out, are they all supposed to be there, and why can’t Sean Bean get through? Also, are Rose and Sharon unable to escape the dimension because they “died” in Silent Hill? I mean, Rose is stabbed in the heart but regains life, but Sharon, who knows… The idea of being stuck in the foggy, ashy dimension, unable to reconnect with your husband in your own home, totally sucks in my opinion.
The next big thing are the air raid sirens. Talk about finding the most terrifying sound you know and then inserting it into the film. Except, in this movie, when you hear it for the first time, you know that something is wrong but you don’t know what it is. That may be the scariest thing of all, ya know? Fear of the unknown. When the sirens go off, the darkness descends upon the town, and all the walls fall away and are replaced with rusty fencing and barbed wire. I always found this detail eerie AF.
The big fire backstory is fantastic. I mean, on the outside people are told it’s because of a large coal mine fire burning underground, causing an entire town to evacuate or perish. Viewers know the real story of the fire in the hotel that started as a result of an attempt at purifying Alessa (the dark half of Sharon) because her mother had her out of wedlock and they wanted to avoid her being a witch and all that fun stuff. But now the town is abandoned, and nobody likes that. Abandoned automatically means scary or haunted.
Going from the idea of abandonment, ALL THE MONSTERS IN THIS FILM ARE TERRIFYING. I mean, we’ve got the one that spits acid, the ones that have glowing faces and sound like crying babies, and then we have my personal favorite, Pyramid Head. I’m not the only one, people love him so much that they have porn dedicated to it. Don’t believe me?
Anywho, the last big thing to tie this whole film together is the recurring theme of religion vs industry. We come to understand that Sharon is adopted from a church-run orphanage. The place they live in West Virginia has a huge billboard with bible quotes as you enter and exit. Not nice bible verses, but creepy ones that don’t make sense being on the side of a road. The school in Silent Hill even has a creepy ass hopscotch chalked on the sidewalk, and one end says “Hell” while the other end says “Heaven”. What the fuck is wrong with these kids, seriously.
Furthermore, we find out that Silent Hill was a town running on the fear of religious fanatics. I mean, they burned people to keep the town pure. They feared outsiders and burned them if they didn’t share their beliefs. This is now most likely the reason they are surrounded by the poor souls they tortured, turned evil with hatred. The church is the one place they go to that is safe from the other monsters, but there’s one part where Pyramid Head says fuck this and climbs the stairs and rips the skin off of some chick.
It’s her own fault. Anyway, these people are pretty much a cult, this town is just bad business. And did I mention they’re super violent? They just go around fucking beating the living shit out of other people they don’t know and burning them. Their depiction of hell, where Alessa’s soul lies, looks like a giant machine under the ground, running by rusty cogs, gears and hellfire. It’s image is pretty terrifying.
The performances in this film are kick ass, and even better, all of the main characters are women. Super badass and brave women who would literally go to the pits of hell to save a child. Also, spoiler, Sean Bean doesn’t die at all in this movie! NOT ONE SINGLE TIME! Like, he’s alive the whole time! He even goes to Silent Hill to find his family and doesn’t accidentally slip into the other dimension because Silent Hill doesn’t even want him.
Finally, the only qualm I have of this film is that we don’t see more of Pyramid Head. When we do, it’s pretty gruesome, he attacks Rose and Cybil (the cop) with his humongous sword and they somehow evade him. Then he spawns at the foot of the church steps to rip skin off of the girl who didn’t go inside fast enough. Let’s take a moment to appreciate this masterpiece.
Let me first tell you how much I love this fucking score. It works. For me, it works. Gamers will recognize it as having pieces from the original games. Next, the use of aerial shots is stunning, and even the shots of the beautiful West Virginia landscape in the “normal” dimension are beautiful. The editing is what truly sets this film apart from other horror films. The dark, foggy, steam laden locations that Rose must trek through puts the viewer on edge, and it’s so extremely satisfying to have two hours of it. This film doesn’t skimp out of the gore either, when shit get’s real, there’s a ton of blood and effects. And here’s a fun fact, all of the monsters are actors underneath covered in prosthetics and FX makeup.
This film also does abandoned buildings better than I’ve ever seen. Did I say that already?
All the deaths in this film are brutal, but they have to be. Everything else in this film is done 100%, so the death’s won’t skimp, especially with an R rating. So, they went crazy with it, and I’m glad they did. Don’t you hate when you watch an R-rated horror film and they don’t go all out to earn the rating? Me too. But Silent Hill does it all.
I have a medium sized list of all the realistic aspects of this film, which is unsettling.
- Religious Fanatics
- Witch Burning
- Coal Mine Fires
That last one can get more specific to the movie. At one point while Alessa is being bullied, she runs to the bathroom and it is implied that she is raped by the janitor. In turn, the janitor turns into a scary barbed wire monster. A caution to all rapists everywhere.
I think it goes without saying I give this movie an Awww Yeahh that fucked me up. And it does every time I watch it.
Thank’s for reading!
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