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May 2006

May 2006: Space



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  • Movie: Silent Hill
  • Product: The New Masters of Fantasy volume III

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  • Silent Hill
    Movie Review
    by Bertha Chin

    Genre: Horror
    Language: English
    Director: Christophe Gans
    Cast: Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden

    Hell hath no fury like the woman scorned. As we discover in a mysterious, deserted town called Silent Hill, long ago abandoned by its inhabitants due to an underground coal fire that is still burning to this day.

    The story begins with a mother frantically searching for her daughter in the middle of the night, who had wandered off while in a somnambulist state and is standing perilously close to the edge of a plunging waterfall. As the mother finally sweeps her daughter off to safety, we see the child repeatedly murmuring �Silent Hill�. Thus, we are introduced to Christopher (Sean Bean) and Rose Da Silva (Radha Mitchell, who played opposite Johnny Depp in Marc Foster�s Finding Neverland), and their adopted daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland), who doesn�t seem to be responding to medical treatments, presumably for her sleepwalking. Rose becomes adamant that the answer lies in Silent Hill and sets off on a journey to the ghost town, much to Christopher�s protests. Along the way, she meets police officer Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden, whom cult TV fans would recognise as Fox Mulder�s informant, Marita Covarrubias from The X-Files), who pursues mother and daughter into the ill-fated town when Rose tries to avoid being stopped by crashing through the barricades of the town. When Rose awakes in the car to find a missing Sharon, and realises that she was stuck in the strange town that takes on a completely different (and dark) persona once the sirens sound, the two women attempts to fight off horrifyingly disfigured monsters while searching for Sharon at the same time.

    Having never played the video game from which the film is adapted from, I am not at liberty to judge if this is a perfect translation. However, there are remnants of the Japanese-ness of the storyline that are hard to miss for viewers familiar with other Japanese offerings like Ringu and Dark Water, which have become familiar to Western audiences in recent years. What stands out isn�t just the mime-like movements of the eerie and hair-raising kind, but the strong mother-daughter bond as well. In all of these stories, both mother and daughter are completely isolated from the outside world and any help rendered appeared hopeless after a while. French director Christophe Gans, who directed Brotherhood of the Wolf, opted out of Hollywood�s leanings toward CGI-heavy special effects, using instead real actors to play some of the film�s memorable characters like Pyramid Head and the faceless nurses. This is a refreshing change, but alas, overused in the recent embrace of all-things Asian that extends toward the making of horror films. While it creates the sense of eeriness further aided by the atmosphere of the town, it doesn�t provide the lasting resonance that the last 5 minutes of Ringu (the Japanese version, not the watered down American one!) did for a generation of horror film fans across the globe.

    What works incredibly well though, is the unravelling of the mystery behind Silent Hill and Sharon�s attraction to the deserted town. The clues Rose picks up along the way in her frantic search for her daughter keeps the viewer on the edge of their seats, hoping to learn as much, if not more, about the mystery and the horrible secret that plagues the memories of the survivors. Sean Bean, however, walks away with being the most underrated actor in Hollywood, being severely and criminally underused as the desperate and grieving father and husband.

    Bertha Chin wrote this.

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