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ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Silent Hill(2006)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Christophe Gans

Starring:
Radha Mitchell/Rose
Sean Bean/Christopher
Laurie Holden/Cybil
Alice Krige/Valtiel
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Mommy dearest (Mitchell) loses her whining adoptive daughter in the spooked up town of Silent Hill. Horrid creatures, alternate dimensions and religious nut-jobs make it really hard for her to find her.
THE LOWDOWN

Honey, sometimes when you go to sleep you go on a little walk.
And sometimes you talk about a place called Silent Hill. - Rose

This will be a tough review to write as I'm actually somewhat confused on how I feel about this film. You know the whole fanboy inner conflict of: "How much did you really like the flick?" versus "How much did you really like it cause you really WANTED to like it?" Well I'm going through that jive right freaking now. Through writing this review I hope to decipher where I stand.

I've only played the original Silent Hill video game and it was a long time ago. But I stuck to it enough then to know that it would've made a badass movie one day. When Christophe Gans (a director I worship) was announced as helmer of the film adaptation, I went coo-coo for Co-Co! And when Roger Avary was stamped screenwriter on the project, I was on cloud 69! This couldn't fail! Having now seen the film I will say that Gans kept his end of the bargain. This had to be one of the more sumptuous looking genre films to come out in the last ten years. The eerie/bleak atmosphere and the awe inspiring production designs were upped in impact by Gans "on the move", daring and creative eye. This flick was akin to an artsy, abstract, surrealistic, living and breathing horror painting come to life. F*cking horror poetry in motion baby! Wait till you see the "staircase" - "darkness falls" scene!  I was floored!

Another plus was that the movie actually looked like the game it was based on! This is the second time I've been comfortable in saying that (the first being with Mortal Kombat) and it should be commended! Somebody FINALLY got it right, and then some, in that respect! Furthermore, the gripping/moving score (lifted off the game at that) and the brilliant sound designs (with many sound bites from the game there too) backed up the whole like a champ! This was one of the best sounding genre films to hit the block in a while. It always cranks my dial to "f*ck yeah" when a director fully capitalizes on the audio potential that a horror film should have. Lastly, the "practically" rendered (With CG enhancements?) creature shenanigans came through enough. The baddies, looked uber creepy, were faithful to their source material and made way for a couple impressive moments (The Pyramid Head big blade attack was my fav, that mofo don't muck around).

On the "bummer" side of the bum begging for bum change, Gans rarely managed to build-up and sustain "true" tension (for me anyway) with his "too short to carry a solid punch" horror scenarios. The varied creatures where under-used and when onscreen, they were just "there", as if looking to turn tricks or something. I seldom felt threatened or scared by them. The occasional overly tight editing that often over-played the "tease card" sure didn't help in that matter either. And what was up with the awful dialogue? Simpleton lines maybe worked for the game but this is a feature film man! Some of the turd blabbing lessened the stenght of some scenes. I needed more quality than that! The same can be said about the character reactions to the events at hand. Is it me or was everybody a little too chill and un-impressed taking into account the ghost laced world they were tossed in? I would've went bonkers and cried out for Mommy 10 minutes in!

Moreover, some of the characters didn't work for me. Although the sweet looking Radha Mitchell carried the film admirably, the great Sean Bean was utterly wasted, solely there to act as Captain Exposition and nothing else. Then there was the little girl (Jodelle Ferland) who grated me and didn't sell me on her role! Thank Zeus she vanished early on! As for the cop dame (Laurie Holden), she was a joke in terms of her dumb lines and her butch demeanor while the whole "wearing sunglasses at night" spiel was the punch line. ARROW NOTE: Why do female cops in films always "have to" act like dudes? Can't we have a "female", "female cop" for once! I didn't buy it! Finally, story wise, I understood the plot just fine but had a hard time giving a shite about the religious zealots stuff (The incredibly talented Alice Krige almost saved it for me). Just didn't find it compelling. And was it me or did the narrative stall during its middle block, hence resulting in a loss of momentum? This 127 minutes flick could've easily been shaved down to 100 minutes if you ask me or my talking Donkey "Victor".

Thankfully Silent Hill got its groove back for its eye popping finale, with wet gore galore, some Hellraiser on steroids inspired happenings and familiar (The Dark anyone?) yet sly final frames that slapped a big grin on my big face. This is definitely a film that demands a second viewing as my gut is telling me that there's more to it than what I caught. You bet I'll get the DVD! I guess I now know how I truly feel about the film: I loved the striking visuals, the faithfulness to the game, the arresting music/sound and was half-half on the characters/storyline. Question is...will you visit Silent Hill?

GORE
Although they came in late within the game we get a couple of solid gore rippers; such as somedy's full insides being pulled out of their skin, people wripped to shreds by hooks, some nasty burn victims, some slashed throats and more! I would've dug on more red grub, but what was there came through!
ACTING
Radha Mitchell (Rose) handled herself well and was credible...even when her Aussie accent would slip out. Sean Bean (Christopher) did what he had to do. Basically played the same role that he did in The Dark, except here he was more of "cut away" and "exposition" tool as opposed to a well defined character. Always nice to see Sean Bean "Beaning" in a horror film though! Grade A actor!

Laurie Holden (Cybil) didn't work for me on every level. Her get-up was too T-1000 and she had the worst lines of the lot. Alice Krige (Valtiel) blew everybody away acting wise when onscreen. She that freaking good! Canuck Kim Coates was focused and on the ball as per usual. Love that guy! Jodelle Ferland (Sharon/Alessa) did "okay" in evil mode but annoyed and didn't sell me the rest of the time.
T & A
The undead nurses sported nice undead cleavage (I'd tap all of them after a couple of drinks!). That's as far as it went!
DIRECTING
Gans is a hero of mine visually and he topped himself here by slapping me in a surreal world of intoxicating mood, bleak beauty, smooth camera moves, ambitious shots, well shot set pieces and kinetic angles. I felt like "Alice" dumped in "Horror Land"! Too bad the too tight editing tarnished some of the scare bits and that the film itself just wasn't frightening enough as a whole.
SOUNDTRACK
The piano inclined score and the impeccable use of sound were mucho efficient. They were a HUGE part of the experience! Must get that soundtrack! NOTE: The score misfired once real bad with a hammy organ note kicking in near the end, making the moment "cheesy", lets see if you catch it too!
BOTTOM LINE
Big props to Gans and Avery for making such an effort in having SILENT HILL the film be like SILENT HILL the game! They went all out and I'm sure ardent gamers will appreciate that. That's what I call: filmmakers who give a shit! Personally, the film let me down but at the same time it didn't. This is one of the rare times where I didn't fully care for the characters or the unraveling of the story...and yet wasn't totally put off. The BEYOND SUPERIOR macabre imagery, the nifty creature designs/effects and the brilliant use of sound pretty much made up for the faults and had me sucked in hardcore.

SILENT HILL could've been much more with a tighter script, true scares and some snip-snip down. But as -is, I'm just INCREDIBLY grateful in getting a flawed yet faithful video game adaptation, obviously made for mature horror fans. Doesn't happen often enough! If you're an audio/visual junkie such as myself, you should have a blast! See it, debate it, love it, hate it...all I know is that I'll have to visit Silent Hill again.
BULL'S EYE
Look out for the sexy Deborah Kara Unger in a small role (She plays Dahlia Gillespie).

Friends of mine who have played all of the games have told me that the film is inspired by the first 3 Silent Hill games.

The film was shot in Ontario and St. George, New Brunswick, Canada for about 50 Million clams.

VISIT THE OFFICIAL SILENT HILL SITE HERE

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