Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Silent Hill

Fishbone! Fishbone!!!

Thanks to dgital for the free preview tickets :-)

Never piss a mother off by taking away or threatening her child. We've seen plenty of tough mamas in contemporary movies, and Jodie Foster comes to mind in having personified the tough-as-nails mum in Panic Room and Flight Plan. No, she doesn't have a part to play in Silent Hill, but the premise, about a mother on a journey to recover her daughter from the clutches of harm, couldn't be more familiar.

And before you dismiss this movie as just another run off the mill video game adaptation, this movie is surprisingly good, in setting up its atmospheric moments. We've had plenty of misses with this genre, and only a few hits. Staying faithful to the setting of the source using CGI enhanced sets and SFX, it took its time to introduce the mystery surrounding Silent Hill, teasing you with long sequences which seem to journey nowhere. Which by then, some of you would have already given up, as you ache to see more of the beasts which go bump in the darkness, only to have an all too quick daylight interrupt the flow of carnage, and having to endure through long moments of silence and basically beating around the bushes.

Then again, it's precisely this hide-and-seek that the movie stays an arm's length away from the usual expectation of action, action and more mindless action. Silent Hill is a very adult adaptation, staying true to the spirit of gaming, with its endless round after round of puzzles and encounters before everything starts to make some sense. Those expecting a splatterfest will be disappointed, as there aren't many. While the monsters and creatures are a sight to behold (they're disgustingly beautiful), most times they get introduced and addressed too easily. Just as you get into the swing of things with a particular beast, it gets hauled away from view, whatever the reason. I dig the spasm-induced dancing faceless nurses, but they're given too little screen time.

It's more mystery than downright horror, basing its theme on superstition and misguided faith on different planes. There're little "boo" moments, as everything builds up gradually, adding to the suspense. Eventually, you'll get to the closure, with the big mystery and back story unveiled, adding some gravitas to the movie, and could serve as a springboard to any sequels if planned.

Radha Mitchell plays Rose Da Silva, the mom who partners cop Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden) who assists her in the paranormal realm of Silent Hill to track down Sharon (Jodelle Ferland), yet another creepy kid (the other kid's the Anti-christ in the remake of Omen. These days creepy kids are in!) who holds the key to the entire whodunnit. Sean Bean was wasted as Rose's husband, in a role that is created only because everyone else substantial in the movie is female. His role is actually to accentuate that Silent Hill exists on different realms, with him being in the "real world" while the others are trapped in another plane of existence. And of course in movies like these, the acting's nothing really to shout about, since expressions are limited to looking scared and looking bewildered.

It'll take a while before you can scratch past to get to the storyline, as your eyes and attention will be peeling away the layers of beautifully crafted production sets and awesome graphics, and your ears appreciating the music adapted from the games. And with a satisfactory story as justification, this could perhaps see a new beginning to games wanting to make it to the silver screen, if done correctly.

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