Viewed: 4:55pm 04/23/06
Starring: Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Jodelle Ferland
Directed by: Christopher Gans
Sony Pictures Official Site of the movie
I was terrified to see Silent Hill. It’s not that I didn’t want to see it. The buzz has been good, the effects look nice, and despite my better judgment horror movies can be a lot of fun. Often though I’ll find myself really excited to see a horror movie only to get into the theater, be freaked out within the first minute of the movie, and hit the realization that there’s another hour and a half of this to suffer through. It usually works out pretty well though, and that’s what keeps me coming back.
Still, I was avoiding Silent Hill to the point where I almost missed my show time completely. I ended up getting to the theater five minuets before show time only to find that the place was packed and that the majority of the people were looking for a scare. Had to miss out on a soda because of the line and when I walked into the actual theater it was filled with mobs of excited teens, hardcore gamers that love the classic Silent Hill video game, some very confused old people, and even a couple of little kids. How are you going to take your 4-year-old daughter to see Silent Hill?
I found myself a little seat in the corner alone and convinced myself that it couldn’t possibly be THAT scary and that the crowd of people will make the experience bearable and maybe even more entertaining. The right crowd in a big movie can be golden.
Thankfully Silent Hill wasn’t especially scary. Don’t get me wrong it’s creepy, dark, and seriously disturbing on a level that had me gap mouthed and bugged eyed for nearly 2/3rds of the film, but it’s not the sort of thing that will stay with you. And I think it’s because it’s not based in reality.
The characters of Silent Hill won’t haunt you forever the way Hannibal Lector or Norman Bates do because a crazy psychos are a very real part of the world. Daemons and undead deformed fire beasts aren’t. So, it’s very scary looking (even in a realistic way) and if it were real you would pretty much crap your pants on the spot, but sitting comfortably in a movie theater filled with hooting and hollering people, you’re able to separate yourself and say, “That’s not real”.
I’ll tell you right now, the scariest part of the movie for me was the scene where Radha Mitchell approaches a little girl that you’re supposed to think is her daughter but everyone really knows is some monster child. Mitchell eases up on the child slowly from behind as the girl quietly weeps. Everyone in the room holds their breath and clutches a loved ones arm as the girl starts to turn with an almost sadistically slow tease. The SECOND her eyes lock with the camera… that 4-year-old girl someone brought to the theater tares up the isle and stands right. Next. To. Me.
Ok. Silent Hill stars Mitchell as a woman whose child has dangerous bouts of sleep walking that finish with her waking up screaming “Silent Hill” after a quick plug to Google, mother and daughter hit the road for Silent Hill, West Virginia to get to the bottom of things. Along the way they encounter CHiP’s reject Laurie Holden who they unwittingly lure into Silent Hill with them. Then all Hell breaks loose. Literally.
I won’t go into the details of the secret link between the town and the child or what eventually happens but it is all very well thought out and revealed. Most of it is obvious and easy enough to put together, but the journey where you’re picking up the pieces is brilliantly creepy in its pacing, cinematography, and acting.
Mitchell, who spends a lot of time on screen alone, has a great combination of vulnerability and maternal rage. You believe she scared but at the same time determined to find her daughter. I’m a big fan of hers actually. She’s the heroine from Pitch Black which is one of the best sci-fi horror movies of all time. It’s actually a similar part in both film pulled off equally well. It doesn’t hurt that she’s smoking hot too.
Speaking of smoking hot, Silent Hill can’t be all bad if those are the standard issue female bike cop uniforms that Holden is sporting. Holden does a good job but has little screen time. She makes the most of two scenes where she confronts the townsfolk of Silent Hill, the second one being one of the more powerful and disturbing moments of the entire film. She was sexy and tough, and she gets a “boomstick” moment early on when she uses her revolver to silence a crowd. It made the geek in me smile.
The other mentionable players in the cast are Jodelle Ferland who plays the lost daughter and Sean Bean as Mitchell’s worried husband. Ferland deserves respect because it’s hard to find a kid that can pull off a dual role in a movie this big and this imaginative. It could have been a disaster but she pushes on through. I was impressed. Bean is brilliant in everything. He isn’t given much to do here but it’s always nice to see him.
Don’t jump up and down with glee just yet because there is some bad acting, but you might miss it. The settlers of Silent Hill have a representative that does nearly all the talking for them. She’s fine, a little over the top maybe, but it could have been worse. Those other town members must have been bitter though because they do some of the worst background acting I’ve ever seen. Just distracting and annoying. I kept wishing them off screen or out of the protective sanctuary of the church where the monsters could devour their overacting asses for good.
The promo department has been downplaying the special effects in Hill but I’m not sure why. They’re unbelievably good. Vivid, crisp, and ugly in a kind of way you could never imagine. You’d never expect Hell to look so cool. Everything from background to character design was heavily influenced by the Silent Hill video games, which acted as a source for every aspect of the film.
Now, I’ve only played up to the schoolhouse in Silent Hill where I got super freaked out by the baby monsters, and I never touched the damn thing again. Even with that limited experience I recognized in the movie some camera angles and scenes that were lifted directly and brilliantly right from the game. It was quite an experience making those connections and brought a nice “inside joke” quality to movie. I’m sure a lot more than the road to nowhere and the use of maps to navigate was titillating Hill gamers across the country this weekend, but I’ll never know. That game is too damn spooky.
The tent pole of the special effects, and the most badass part of the movie hands down, is Pyramidhead. I’d seen screen captures of him from the games and didn’t think much. I always felt that he looked like a designers last attempt at a character that was like no other. You know, like they were sitting around trying to come up with something original, and someone drew a pyramid on a guy’s head and said, “Screw it, that’s good. I’m going home.” But, oh my God, Pyramidhead destroys all in this movie.
From the second he steps on screen everyone leans forward and takes note. Then he breaks out that sword that’s double his size and starts wrecking shop. So cool. His most memorable moment is on the stairs of the church where he really shows you whose the coolest guy with a shape on his head ever. That scene alone was worth the cost of admission for me. It’s one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen and it wets your apatite for more Pyramidhead action. Unfortunately he is a little under used, which could be for the best. Any more might have seemed repetitive and gotten old. They left me wanting more of that crazy bastard.
The largest problem of the movie was that there’s a point where it becomes safe. There’s a point where you start routing for the return of the daemons when earlier you were terrified of them. When the fear is gone, the tension is gone and the experience changes completely. You start to put the pieces together and you can guess what’s going to happen. It’s ok, but it slows down and gets a little preachy. That might have been easier to take or harder to pick up on if the threat of some devil babies was still relevant. It’s cool though, it’s just part of the story.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
I was really surprised by Silent Hill. I never expected to enjoy it as much as I did. It’s smart and beautiful in its way and is easily one of the best game adaptations ever. It deviates a little with the stories perspective but carries over the more important elements of tone and effect. It’s an intense fright fest that any horror buff will eat up with a spoon.
I’m on the fence. I really enjoyed the movie but couldn’t say that I would love to watch it over and over again. It’s not like with Resident Evil a few years back where it was scary but also worked on an action/adventure level. Silent Hill is better crafted as a subtle tense horror film, but once you know what happens it loses a lot of that appeal. Even after knowing where all the jumps and frights are, Resident Evil still works as an ass kicking zombie film. Silent Hill doesn’t translate in the same way. It’s a better film and a rare gem among crappy video game adaptations, but multiple viewings might not go so epically.
Trailer Hitch: Crossover
Crossover reveals the world of an underground basketball league that is more dangerous and more extreme (for lack of a better word) then the basketball we’re all familer with. It focuses specifically on two friends, partners in the league, whose lives are headed in different directions. At least that’s what I picked up from the short trailer.
It looks ok, not amazing, but it’s an interesting premise so you never know how good it could be. I like the actors playing the friends - Anthony Mackie and Wesley Johnson. Mackie has had a few smaller roles but he’s been good in them. I think he’s got some serious potential to be one of the next high profile “it” actors. Johnson will be recognized as the big time roller skater from last years Roll Bounce (a surprising good movie – check it out) or from his sitcom What I like About You. But to me he will always be one of the City Guys! Does anyone remember that show? It was a TNBC kids sitcom sort of like Saved By the Bell except in the city. Man my roommate and I would wake up early on Saturday to watch City Guys. It was so bad it was good.
So I’ll see it for the actors and hope the movie itself follows through with entertainment. But Crossover doesn’t come out until August so I have plenty of time to change my mind at this point.
If you liked this movie check out: The Cell
There were more then a few times when the world of Silent Hill would switch dimensions that it reminded me of the sick and twisted world within the mind of Vincent D’Onofrio’s character in The Cell. The Cell was a bit of a disappointment to me at the time of its release. The rambling bizarre half murder mystery, half character analysis storyline didn’t quite live up to hype of it’s state of the art special effects and cooler than cool cast. Jennifer Lopez (pre JLO, fresh off of Out of Sight) takes a journey into D’Onofrio’s head (which might as well be hell) and gets stuck inside. Vince Vaughn has to come in and get her out.
The real similarities are in the effects, which in both are vivid and brilliant, and the tone, which in both is dark and deeply disturbed. I Think Silent Hill wins out in “shock and terror” but The Cell tops out in the “weird” department. Not a great film but worth a viewing if you’re into that sort of thing.
Today’s vote incentive is a close up on the button I’m wearing in today’s strip. It is a plea to Free Iago who is the main character of a comic called The Kenmore. The Kenmore has been on hiatus for a short period and I’ve been pushing its creator Brandon (with me in the comic) for its return. I miss the little, Egg. Sue me.
If you go to Clickwheel and choose the comic called Benchwarmers rejected you can see another comic of Brandon and I in custody. That strip is exclusive to Clickwheel and can’t be seen anywhere else.
Also at Clickwheel right now is a sneak peek at the comic for American Dreamz which will be going live later this week.
Thanks for all the voting you guys have done so far. In the coming month I’ll be making a big push and will have another set of daily incentives like the Joe Loses and Eye event that was going on before things shut down. More on that soon, but I thank you now for the votes at the Buzzcomix and Top Web Comics 100 lists.
Non movie related stuff:
I wanted to give a quick shout out to a great comic called Muffin Time. Bryan sent me an e-mail and I fell in love with the style of his art and the complete craziness of his characters. It’s a young comic on the rise so keep your eye on it.
Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - The Introduction
Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.
First Appearance - Fever Pitch
Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior
Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.
First Appearance - V for Vendetta
Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison
Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.
First Appearance - 300
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe
Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.
First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet
Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.
First Appearance - Four Brothers
Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.
First Appearance - Ultraviolet
Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.
First Appearance - The Producers
Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!
Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?
First Appearance - Saw IV
Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V