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The Silent Hill Movie is Awesome

When I say the Silent Hill movie is awesome, I’m being completely sincere. Any time the topic of Silent Hill is broached, I nearly always ask for opinions on the Silent Hill movie, just so I can hear the various views on it. To my continuing surprise, a lot of people tend to give me generally good feedback, but it would be a lie to say that the good feedback is universal because, let’s be honest, the movie has more than a few problems. I am, however, of the mind that most of these problems are buried beneath the good bits.

A little while back, we discussed Silent Hill’s 20th anniversary, and in that piece I mentioned the Silent Hill movie, saying, “The film cost $50 million to make and brought in $97.6 million at the box office. Christophe Gans, in the eyes of many, didn’t bring much to the setting for his movie, allowing studio intervention to alter the vision that he originally had. Although, luckily, we were given Radha Mitchell as Rose Da Silva and she performed incredibly.”

Ritualistic Burning.

We really were lucky to get Radha Mitchell as Rose Da Silva, her role as the main character, Rose, is wonderfully performed and alongside Laurie Holden, who plays Cybil Bennett, the two brought some real character to the leading ladies. Sean Bean as Christopher Da Silva is just ridiculous; he barely has a role in the movie and his brand of acting just feels at odds with what’s going on. Granted, you could argue this is intentional given the very real divide between our reality and Silent Hills’ other world.

Jodelle Ferland as Alessa Gillespie’s dark side and Sharon Da Silva is definitely a weak point in the cast. Near constant moaning, high-pitched screaming being counterbalanced with generic “I’m the devil” dialogue make for a weak driving force in the narrative. We’re lucky that everything around her shines in comparison. Using her to play both Alessa and Sharon is a visually interesting idea, and Director Christophe Gans was keen to have her play both roles, but she’s at her best when she doesn’t need to give lines.

While the movie’s telling of the story is somewhat stunted and diverges from the canon material, the town of Silent Hill is represented marvelously. Peeling walls, foggy streets and abandoned homes, it’s all there, but the sets are designed to feel both decrepit and diseased at the same time. When the darkness comes, the world takes on a feeling of being damp, the pallette leans into red and orange, or muted blues and greys, changing from area to area. There’s a tangible sense of organic decay. But this would all be for nothing if there were no monsters to populate the world.

Chinese dancer, Yvonne Ng, is a specialist in the art of Butoh dancing. Butoh requires flexibility that borders on the uncanny, allowing for movements and contortions of the body that can look positively uncomfortable.

Yvonne was brought on to the movie to play the part of the Grey Child, which was brought to life through her movements, a full prosthetic suit, and some digital reworking. It includes multiple separate movements on screen that were overlapped in post production where they were needed allowed the Director to have Rose chased through an empty park by a writhing horde of Grey Children.

Another monster brought to life by the film was Gans’ version of Pyramid Head, referred to as the Red Pyramid in the production documentation and commentaries, but called The Fiend by the members of the church in the movie.

Brought to life by Italian actor and choreographer Roberto Campanella, the Red Pyramid was another practical monster, with Roberto wearing a prosthetic suit and reverse jointed stilts (that the crew nicknamed Roberto’s Kermit Legs) that let him stand at the impressive seven foot tall height that was required for the monster.

Roberto also served as the Lead Choreographer for the movie, directing the Nurses found in the Hospital and the Armless Men found in the streets. When talking about the Red Pyramid, Gans has said, “The big change in Red Pyramid for me was not his head as much as his body. In the game he has a very deformed body almost a hunchback. Instead we decided to make him a tall, powerful character a little like the Warrior God in Stargate that Patrick Tatopoulos created. Why? Because for me there is a little of Anubis, the Egyptian God of Death in the Red Pyramid. Of course we consulted Konami and Akira Yamaoka with before signing of the new design which they were very enthusiastic about.”

An interesting point that I find makes for good conversation is how this adaptation makes use of the story elements. Director Christophe Gans has repeatedly said that he is a big fan of the series, enjoying Silent Hill 4: The Room the most. When the movie opens up, we see Sharon standing over a sheer cliff face, about to pitch herself over the edge while muttering “Silent Hill” to herself. The camera leans over the edge and zooms downwards, showing us a brief glimpse of Alessa standing among bursts of fire in a metallic environment that, to me, gives of the feeling of a forge. I posit that this is where Alessa’s dark side “makes” the nightmares and creatures that roam Silent Hill.

But that’s just my own little theory. I’m more inclined to believe that we are supposed to view this area as the underground layers of the Hospital where Alessa lies in wait, viewed from above and surrounded by fire to symbolize her ritualistic burning.

Aside from seeing the monsters, of which there are a few we didn’t touch on, the movie is permeated with the usual haunting soundtrack that one can expect to hear from a project using Akira Yamaoka’s music. The original plan was to have Yamaoka compose all of the soundtrack, but a stipulation in the production contracts dictated that a Canadian composer be involved with the project. To that end Jeff Danna was taken on to rework the tracks that Yamaoka produced. He went on to serve as the composer on the film’s sequel, Silent Hill Revelation. Terrible name, right?

I’m going to suggest you give Silent Hill a spin again, I’m not saying it’s a masterpiece, but it’s a damn good time if you let it carry you along through its wobbly story. But don’t watch the sequel unless you want to see Kit Harrington at his worst, bad CG monsters, and forced 3D camera angles. In the words of its director, “It was just a nightmare dance and I couldn’t do it, so I’m very sorry to everyone who didn’t like the movie.”

Thanks for reading, we hope you enjoyed the article! If you’d like to see some related content, and support Exclusively Games in the process, click on our Amazon Affiliate links listed below to find related products. – EG Staff

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  1. LuesaTora on May 12, 2019 at 10:05 am said

    I never played any of the games. But I certainly did enjoy the movie. I especially liked the visuals. The dark creepy aesthetic as well as all the monsters were wonderfully done.

    • Martin Toney on May 14, 2019 at 9:39 pm said

      The visuals are definitely a strong point of the film!
      The games are great! You might want to look into ’em at some point!

    • Damian Cunliffe on May 18, 2019 at 12:42 pm said

      I recommend playing (or watching playthroughs of) Silent Hill 1 and 2. The rest are optional, but Silent Hill 1 was pretty revolutionary. It was the first, or maybe one of the first, games to successfully do psychological horror. Silent Hill 2 just perfected what SH 1 started.

    • frankrafaelsv on May 22, 2019 at 12:55 am said

      I think… i would be a nice addition to have a remaster version…. it was scary….but the graphics take out of of the immersion in this days

  2. Matej Skriba on May 12, 2019 at 10:18 am said

    I liked the movie as well. Though I was not a fan of sillent hill back then. All the movies based on games were and maybe still are considered shit but I also liked Prince of persia sands of time.

  3. ticklishshinma on May 12, 2019 at 4:58 pm said

    I’m a big Silent Hill fan and I liked the movie. I dunno that I would say Awesome =P but I still enjoyed it a lot. I’ve watched it several times and bought it. It’s for damn sure not an example of a bad video game movie.

    • Martin Toney on May 14, 2019 at 9:43 pm said

      Awesome is certainly a strong choice of word, but I stand by it! The audio-visual experience is, for me, just AWESOME! Speaking of bad game movies though, have you seen Alone in the Dark? Woof.

  4. Tech_0ne on May 13, 2019 at 7:58 pm said

    I thought the film was OK, it definitely captured the atmosphere of the games, the fog covered town and the otherworld were very well done.

  5. Celron_Miles on May 14, 2019 at 6:38 am said

    I remember playing my first Silent Hill game. On Playstation, with walkthrough book beside me, and my sister and cousins watching. We were 12 I think? It wasnt a good idea but a memorable one nonetheless. Movie maybe wasnt a masterpiece, but somehow it just… felt like a Silent Hill story. It fit all the games. It still holds a special place in my movie memories.

  6. I was actually a big fan of the movie but then again, I enjoyed the Res Evil movies too(don’t know if that relates). I didn’t go into expecting a Silent Hill movie I guess. I went in as I usually do with no expectations. I got a fun movie with cool visuals(I also enjoyed the second one but not nearly as much). I don’t know why people can’t just go into a film as a layman anymore but that’s off topic. Thank you for showing me that I’m not the only one who liked this film.

  7. Bloodhound2341 on May 14, 2019 at 7:09 pm said

    You seem to have little or no understanding, other than what fans have told you, of the original story of Silent Hill 1 and 3 in which the main character for the 1st game is Harry Mason. You do mention that the 1st movie is divergent form the original story it is based upon, but you don’t cover how divergent it was. This was the core issue most of the fans that didn’t like to movie had with it. Using Red Pyramid in this story was nothing more than an attempt at fan service. It was cool to see the big guy and his great knife brought to life, but his place in the movie along with the Armless Man and the Creeper was completely off since they did not appear in the games until Silent Hill 2. In fact the only two monsters that were actually apart of the 1st or 3rd game are the nurses and the grey children. Rose isn’t even in the games. She was created for the movie as was Colin. Granted the director has never said this was a cannon telling of the story. Inventing a female main character for the first film disqualifies any ability for it to be cannon. I highly doubt that you have received general praise for the movies from fans of the games. If the first comment you get when you ask about the movies isn’t about how much they changed from the games, then your aren’t talking to someone who played them. Being a fan of the silent Hill games and the movies are completely different areas of fandom for this franchise. It’s like the difference between fans of the original Ghost in the Shell anime and fans of the live action movie. I’m sure there are some that enjoy both, but they are better than me in being able to look past nonsensical changes to something that is already awesome.

    • Martin Toney on May 14, 2019 at 7:41 pm said

      Hey there! Thanks for the comment.
      Your reading on this is largely based on assumptions that you’re making.
      You say, “You seem to have little or no understanding, other than what fans have told you, of the original story of Silent Hill 1 and 3 in which the main character for the 1st game is Harry Mason.”
      This is provably false and an assumption on your part. See: https://www.exclusivelygames.com/silent-hill-20th-anniversary-retrospective/

      You then go on to point out divergence points before clarifying your statement with, “Granted the director has never said this was a cannon telling of the story.”
      We all know this isn’t a canon story, but that doesn’t make it inherently bad. The inclusion of familiar faces for the sake of fan service isn’t an inherently bad thing either. The movie was non-canon, so it can feature non-canon material.

      You then go on to use assumptions again, saying, “I highly doubt that you have received general praise for the movies from fans of the games. ”
      Again, an assumption. I stand to gain nothing in this from lying. The fans I know and speak with, of which there are quite a few, plus those I’ve met online and talk to generally praise the movie.

      When you say, “they are better than me in being able to look past nonsensical changes to something that is already awesome.” I am wholly in agreement.
      No nonsensical changes were made to something that is already awesome. All the Silent Hill games that you’ve ever enjoyed still exist and are unchanged. Because you didn’t like a movies own retelling of events, doesn’t mean “nonsensical changes” have been made to something that already exists. The logic just doesn’t carry through, you know?

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment, but I don’t appreciate you making assumptions to support your own argument when I know them to be false and in some cases, provably so.

      • Bloodhound2341 on May 15, 2019 at 4:19 am said

        All anyone reading this has to go on is assumptions that your’re being honest about data you’re not citing or showing sources for. I either assume you are being truthful or not. In this case I don’t think your representing the fan base fully. Not that you are outright lying, but your statements do not align with facts about the game or discussions I have had with other fans about the movies in their relation to the games.

        As far as my logic I did make the distinction between people that like the movie and people that like the games. The games came first and there was no reason to change anything about the material they provide. That is my opinion and I stated as much. Saying my logic is flawed to try and disprove an opinion is a bit of a bad look. The nonsensical changes comment was apart of my opinion that the movie made mistakes that could have been easily avoided. That’s an opinion, not logic.

        I said the movie was bad as apart of my opinion and you made statements that led to my assumptions. Just because you intended meaning behind your statements that didn’t get taken that way you want is not my fault. If I’m wrong about your level of knowledge of the games/movies then I’ll be quick to admit being wrong, but I will not back track on assumptions based on information given at the time. Saying you gain nothing from lying does not build confidence in your original statements. That is a fallacy. If your’re writing on this site then you know the reputation of gaming journalists and their tenancy to just say anything they want (true or not). I never said you were lying, I said I doubt you have been receiving praise about the movies from fans of the games. Please do not twist my words.

        Simply saying my logic is flawed doesn’t make it so. My comment about that part was highlighting the opportunity to bring an already great story to the big screen. Not making strange changes to the name and gender of the main character for whatever reasons the director and producers had. Just like some people get annoyed when a band covers a classic song and puts their own little spin on it. You may think the movie was great, but I and many people I have discussed this with in the past (See how I also am using personal conversations I can’t prove) have the opinion that the movie was a missed opportunity that felt like it could have been allot more. Movies about video games have always had plenty of problems and I can’t name one I felt nailed the mark.

        Let me be clear, I’m not attacking you, I’m debating your opinion. I do not intend disrespect. I’m sure you put real work into this article just as you did with the 20th anniversary feature, and after reading that I do see that you at least have done your research. However, I read this article first. I will gladly give credit to the work you put into the linked article and think it was well written, but the current article was on the homepage. My assumptions were based on that. If you felt disrespected I will happily apologize for that, but I still hold true to my opinions. The movies were a huge lost opportunity to celebrate the games as a franchise. This is my opinion, not my logic. There is logic behind my opinion as there is with yours. However, just because the logic you use to form your opinion is not in alignment with yours doesn’t make it flawed.

        I hope this clarifies my comments and my stance a bit more.
        Thank you for taking the time to read this.

  8. Dude this movie was amazing. Easily the best game to movie adaptation I have ever seen (and I’ve watched over 20 of them). The visuals alone were better then the games in some respects and the disturbing themes still stick with me over 13 years after the fact. I loved reading this article thinking “I’m not alone!”. Please give this movie a shot if you can find it.

  9. karkaemis on May 15, 2019 at 7:12 pm said

    Very well done article. I love this adaptation of the film. Though it was nice to see The Red Pyramid on screen, it was the only character I felt did not need to be used in this film as it was specific to the second Silent Hill story.

  10. I thoroughly enjoyed the 1st half of the film. The plot building, most of the acting, and mounting tension are on point for a film feature. The town and monsters were well done. The music of course is phenomenal. My favorite parts of the movie actually were the quiet ones, like earlier on when Rose and Cheryl are resting together in the field on the way to Silent Hill. It parallels many quiet moments and conversations that stand out in the games.

    There’s a lot of debate about whether Chris Da Silva’s arc was a neccessary part of the movie. I personally enjoyed it, it provided some exposition and helped with the pacing of the movie. I also thought Detective Gucci was very well acted and helped validate the arc (sorry, cant remember the actors name off the top of my head… the guy from Sons of Anarchy).

    The weakest part was the 2nd half, pretty much as soon as the church is introduced. I personally believe that the movie would have been much better off if it had stayed more similar to the games as far as being a deeply personal, lonely journey, with human interactions being powerful, but few and far between. The church was full of cardboard non characters outside of Christabella, and took time away from the creatures and the ‘quiet moments’. The oppressive, lonely atmosphere of the 1st half of the movie was shattered.

    I also didnt care for the climax in the church. Silent Hill works best when the terror is subtle and slow burning. The extreme, shocking violence wore out its welcome very quickly and after a while just became tacky and out of character for Silent Hill. The last scene in the Da Silva house at the end would have worked on its own and had more emotional impact than the extreme violence just prior. When it comes to horror, less is almost always better than more.

    I also thought Cybil was severely miscast. I am not a fan of Laurie Holden.

    All in all it is pretty much as you said. It has its problems, but it is enjoyable for the most part. For me personally, I am happy turning off the movie right after Anna’s unfortunate run in with PH just outside the church.

    Good article.

  11. I agree, I live right by Centralia (The Eternal Fire in the Mines) I’ve actually walked on the road before that’s all broken and heated from the fire down below. Love this movie, was cool to be close to home too

  12. I’ve never really seen one of these movies all the way, but maybe I should one day possibly halloween!

  13. neilcivick on May 16, 2019 at 12:27 am said

    I really enjoyed the games (mostly forcing my friends to watch me play so i wasn’t alone) and when the movie first was announced, I was pumped! It was a little bit of a let down due to my own over hyping of it but it’s a movie i’ve rewatched several times and always appreciated! I enjoyed this article

  14. This is one of the first R rated movies I watched as a kid. It shook me to my core. And it will always have a place in my heart in a strange way because as I grew up I grew to love this film more. Very underrated video game film. Great work on the article.

  15. It was shot in Toronto and my sister played one of the demon nurses at the end!

    She was the only one who wasn’t a stripper by trade XD – She got home and told me “All the rest of them are strippers! the first thing they asked me was ‘what club do you work at?’ and I was like ‘club?'” – I always found that super funny

  16. The Revenant on May 17, 2019 at 2:18 am said

    Movie was solid, not really ‘amazing’. They got the atmosphere down pretty well but it wasn’t as cerebral as the classic games.

  17. jimzy1995 on May 17, 2019 at 5:23 am said

    The movies were ok personally

  18. Christopher on May 17, 2019 at 9:50 am said

    Could you write a review on Alita: Battle Angel? thanks!

  19. jdtolnay on May 17, 2019 at 5:15 pm said

    When I first saw the film I only had a cursory knowledge of the games, and I thought the movie was really good. It’s important for a movie to also be a good enough movie to stand on its own without having to rely on its license to “make” it good. It had great atmosphere both in visuals and tone; I believe you can tell that the people behind the movie actually cared and actually were trying. Now that it’s later and I’ve played the games, I still feel they’re great and they worked hard to capture the spirit of the Silent Hill franchise (even using the soundtrack from the games themselves at appropriate moments). While Silent Hill 2 (the movie) is not so good, this is first one is worth a watch (if you like the game series or just want a decent horror movie).

  20. j-osborne on May 18, 2019 at 1:46 am said

    Type text here…I actually loved this movie back in the day. My friends and I were totally gone on the Pyramid Head and his great knife. Even now, years later, I love his creepy design and his stiff, kinda twitchy way of walking. The nurses were so freakin scary as a kid too.

    But as far as video games movies go, I think this movie needs points there too. The bar has been set so very low, and this one isn’t bad at all.

  21. gadgetmawombo on May 18, 2019 at 10:42 am said

    I actually did think this was a good movie too. I was surprised at the time by how good it was for a VG movie.

  22. NotInTheFace! on May 18, 2019 at 7:19 pm said

    I really enjoyed the movie and was not happy they didn’t keep going increasing the story and lore in movie format… a loss for the genre, not every movie has to be perfect, many movies are cult status despite not being box office winners…

  23. MukilteoSailor on May 19, 2019 at 10:29 am said

    I just saw the Silent Hill movie pop up in my Netflix feed. Maybe I will have to give it a viewing.

  24. Jamie Karl on May 22, 2019 at 12:49 am said

    That’s uncommon. Loved the game, but not a horror move fan, otherwise I’d check it out.

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