Silent Hill reminds me of The X-Files movie in that I think it will only be memorable to fans of the game, excluding the other 90% of the world... I don't believe that this movie will be on any top horror movie lists or top drama movie lists either. While it attempts to stay true to the game's theme and style, it falls short of the masterpieces that are the game series, and I believe that it will fall short of other horror movies released this year in the eyes of the horror viewer. The Hills Have Eyes has already shown up this movie, in my opinion, and now horror fans will most likely redirect their attention to the release of The Omen's remake as well.
The movie starts out with an attempt to put the audience directly into the storyline, and the way it was written makes it almost too obvious that they are trying too hard at this. We see the parents of Sharon (the little girl) trying to find their daughter who, we can only assume, sleepwalks. In order to try adding a real feel for the fear that the parents have as a result of her sleepwalking, they show her over a randomly steep cliff. How a cliff like that would end up near roads and houses, I don't really know. (It's really steep, ok.) After Rose (the mother) manages to stop Sharon from falling off of the cliff, it shows a somewhat symbolic view of a lit-up cross just across the giant hole. Then we, as an audience, can only feel too honored to be introduced so soon to some of the 'excellent' acting that the director had been talking about from the young girl. Not only is she unconvincing while yelling "Go Home! Silent Hill!", but the scene adds a lot of cheesiness initially to the film, and you're wondering so soon whether or not to take it seriously. Also, it ruins the whole "put in the middle of the action" feel and gives it a "beginning" feeling instead.
A feel which is again muddled by the following scene, in which Rose and Sharon are laying underneath a tree in a random open field. Rose reminds Sharon of Silent Hill and how they're going there on a "special trip". The little girl's acting is so horrible in this scene... In fact, throughout the entire movie, it seems, she acts younger than she actually is; which, in my opinion, is not this wonderful acting that I'd read previously about and was expecting.
En route to Silent Hill the mother and daughter actually stop at a gas station for the town of Brahms which, if you remember, is the neighbouring town to Silent Hill and where Cybil is a cop out of. The movie then begins following the storyline of the first Silent Hill game. The mother and daughter crash their car because they see an image of Alessa walking across the street; the mother gets out to look for the child. In a fashion similar to the first Silent Hill, Rose sees Sharon and chases her into an alleyway where she sees a body strung up to a fence and is attacked by childish-looking 'monsters', then she ends up waking up when everything is normal again. So then Rose meets up with Cybil Benett and convinces her to aid in the search for Sharon. We get to relive the beginning to Silent Hill 2 also with a following scene in which the characters are met with one of the monsters without free arms. But then we go back to the first Silent Hill, as Rose escapes from Cybil and runs to the school, where she believes Sharon to be. (Because of a drawing, of course.)
As you can tell, the movie includes lots of tidbits for fans of the game series to go "I remember that part in the game and then blah blah blah" during the movie to disturb other people. However, as I said earlier, the movie won't be as memorable as a horror or a drama film, or any other genre. Here's why...
Firstly, the main problem with this movie, (and it leads to others), is the director. The film needed someone else... Desperately. The sets were so cardboard-looking and the film was entirely too "live in front of a studio audience"-esque.
The camera work was nothing to be proud of either. The angles were boring and didn't lend much to the 'experience of the game' that the director was trying to achieve. There were a couple cliche artistic attempts at angling the camera, but other than that, the only purpose the camera served was showing us what was happening. One very noticeably untactful use of camera angles was when the school's bathroom turned and it showed a close side view of the man's face. Not only did it do that, but the film focused on him a bit too much, actually. It almost made that particular scene laughable.
Also, commenting on the film's appearance, it was very inconsistant with its use of computer effects. They should have either used more or used less. There was too much of a different feel between the environments. I realize that there was supposed to be a difference; but the movie transitioned between polished, interesting surroundings and colors into boring, drab cardboard box sets. If they used more graphics in the entire film, it would have been really beautiful. It would have been consistant and the color would have actually made it look like a film and not a low-budget made-for-tv movie.
The next most bothersomely amateur aspect of the film would definitely have to be its use of sound. The way they edited the voices into the film, it doesn't seem like an actual movie, it seems more like a cheap soap opera. Usually the voices seem louder and more pressed into the movie, so that the viewer is right there, experiencing the film as realism. I don't think there was ever really any particularly loud moments in the film, not by theater standards. Usually you expect to feel the bass during big moments and hear the voices with a sharp, loud clarity; I didn't feel or hear anything like that.
Even though there existed these bad uses of sound, by far the most horrible part of the sound in the film was its use of the game's music. The music may work wonderfully in the game, but the way the director incorporated it into the movie was just, well, bad. I know that the director was trying to make the movie seem more like an experience in the game's world, but the way he chose to combine his bad use of sets and bad use of music really failed to achieve that. Not only did he use the music, I felt, inappropriately; but he also used it entirely too often. There was new music every five seconds, and not only that, but the entire movie was saturated with music.
Now, about the little girl. I was expecting so much more, because I'd read that the director was so impressed with this girl's ability to act out multiple characters, etc. Well, I'm sure I won't be the first person to say that I was not impressed at all. Not only did the girl act like she was 4, but she failed to show any believable emotion. She also made the character of "evil Alessa" even cornier than it already was.
While I'm on the subject of the "evil Alessa" character, I would also like to suggest a removal of that explanation part of the film. It tries to explain to audience members backstory which may or may not be correct, and only serves to cheesify the storyline and deduct from the seriousness of the entire film. The over-usage of the old film effects during the scene was laughable and so was that overly-innocent tone with which the young actress spoke. On top of the scene's crapilicious execution, the monologue's actual words were just too easy to mock. I'm sure the Wayans brothers are upset that they finished Scary Movie 4 before this scene was exposed.
While I've spent nearly this entire review saying negative things about the film, I'd like to say that I did enjoy the death scenes. They were creative and very well-done. If the entire film had been a gorefest with a record death count, instead of trying to be story-related, maybe it would have survived, in the eyes or horror-viewers, with all of the negatives. Oh, I also liked the way they incorporated Pyramid Head into the movie, he was pretty badass. They should have used him more.
To sum it up: If a new director had polished the movie up and used more graphics (to give the entire movie a graphic, creepy consistent feel), made the sounds of voices and loud noises louder, either correctly used the Silent Hill music or new atmospheric music, used a new little girl, and removed the cheesy explanation segment, then the film would have definitely been memorable. It's full of potentials that never deliver. Like I said, fans of the game are the only ones who will be looking forward to this DVD's release date.
I'd give it a 5.5/10, average.
Edit: As a sidenote, me and Ash have been discussing the plotlines of the movie and they really don't make any sense. So, there's actually 3 demensions?? Because I thought that the town was real how it was, and actually that Alessa's manefested nightmares were real in the game, since she had powers because of her ability to birth the town's god. I also thought that, actually, all that weird stuff that was wrong with the town when it was "real" was all mind tricks played on the people there by the memory of Alessa. So then, it gets confusing because somehow when they return home they're in the real world, but only it's not the real world? People say you have to play the game to understand, but that doesn't make sense still. And, so then are the people in the town dead? So then did Rose and Sharon and Cybil die in their crashes on the road? Cause they didn't find any bodies. If the townspeople are dead in purgatory, then that would make Rose, Cybil, and Sharon dead, only they're not?? Are they zombies? In a special zombie world?
On top of that, the movie claims that the events (Alessa burning the town going in flames, etc) happened 30 years ago. This would have been when the baby Sharon was created, so why then is the lil girl only 8?? Shouldn't she be 30?