Set Visit: Silent Hill
July 2005: I woke up early this morning and got ready to go to my first set visit, and I couldn’t have been more excited and petrified in my entire life. Since I live in the city where the set visit was taking place, I took the bus and subway down to meet the other journalists at the Sutton Place Hotel in downtown Toronto, Canada. There I waited to take the shuttle bus to the set of Sony/Tri-Star Pictures’ film adaptation of the popular horror videogame SILENT HILL. Before I get into my exciting, yet nerve-wrecking experience, let me first fill you in on the essentials.
The films stars Radha Mitchell (MAN ON FIRE), Sean Bean (LORD OF THE RINGS: FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING), Laurie Holden (FANTASTIC FOUR), and Deborah Kara Unger (WHITE NOISE). The story has been written by Roger Avary, (co-writer of PULP FICTION) and is being directed by Christophe Gans (BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF). It opens wide on April 21st and you can check out its OFFICIAL SITE right here.
Rose (Mitchell) and Christopher’s (Bean) daughter, Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) is dying from a fatal disease. Against her husband’s wishes, Rose takes her to a faith healer. On their way to the faith healer, she unknowingly drives through an alternate dimension and ends up in the deserted ghost town of Silent Hill. Sharon disappears in Silent Hill, which unfortunately is inhabited by creatures lurking in the darkness. Rose teams up with a police officer named Cybil, (Laurie Holden) who both must fight the creatures if they want to save Sharon from the forces of Darkness.
ON THE SET:
The bus pulled into Toronto Film Studios and then we all entered this huge warehouse full of sets for the movie. Now, I’m not an avid Silent Hill video game player. I had attempted to play the game on the weekend prior to this set visit, and I’m not going to lie to you….I was scared out of my mind. As soon as I heard a radio crackle and felt the controller vibrate whenever something scary popped out, I shouted, “F*ck this!” and immediately turned off the game. I then turned to my guy friends and to the Internet for further research on the game. But, even with my lack of knowledge of playing the game, (due to the fact that I’m a big chicken) I knew the movie sets were almost identical to the game’s setting. It was uncanny!
There were 107 different sets and soundstages built. The journalists weren’t allowed to see all of them, but we saw enough to know we have officially entered the SILENT HILL world. A lot of the sets all had a very dreary and eerie feel to them. The paint on the walls were very dark and had a very decayed look to them. We were also told that a lot of scenes had to be shot on HD (High Definition) cameras, because of the darkness. Samuel Hadida (the producer of the film) gave us a mini-tour and then surprised us by introducing us to the very humble Radha Mitchell, (sorry boys, I’m not going to describe her hotness level for you!) and the very talented and very kind Christophe Gans (interview with him coming up later this week), who also took the time to properly greet each and everyone of us with a handshake. We were then lead to stand behind a monitor to watch a scene being shot.
THE SCENE: NURSES FROM HELL!!
The scene took place in a dark and fog-enshrouded hallway in a hospital. Rose (Mitchell) is already in the Silent Hill universe and she is desperately looking for her daughter in this scene. She’s already bloodied up, (unfortunately we weren’t allowed to know how) and she’s holding a torchlight.
The torchlight is very essential to the plot because it protects her from the monsters and demons for they attack in the darkness. This scene creates much suspense and tension for the viewers, because Rose must walk through a group of zombie-like nurses who are all standing still and holding some sort of sharp medical instrument.
She must then carefully make her way through the crowd of nurses without touching them, or they will see her and slash her with their weapons. She slowly makes her way through the nurses without touching them. But, as she passes by them, one by one, they start to sense her presence and start wiggling out of their statue like state. It was a very tense scene to watch. There was even a moment when one of the nurses’ scalpel gets stuck in Rose’s dress, and you can tell once the score is added to the film, that this scene will provide many BOO scares.
The nurses were also very scary looking. They were all gray with veins popping out, and I know the fans of the games will not be disappointed by their looks. Most of the morning, we watched this scene being shot in every possible angle imaginable. I had absolutely no idea how long the process of making a movie really was. (How does Robert Rodriguez shoot his movies so FAST?)