Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Silent Hill


Silent Hill was the closest I've seen cinema come to replicating the experience of watching someone else play a video game. A dubious achievement perhaps, but one performed with such earnestness and skill that it feels oddly unfair to hold it out completely as a negative.

Based of what I knew of the story, the fact of Christophe Gans, whose Brotherhood of the Wolf was promising and entertaining if not entirely successful, directing and Roger Avary writing, I had expectations of something along the lines Dario Argento's Inferno, Lucio Fulci's The Beyond or Clive Barker's Hellraiser or, in more modern terms, perhaps Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Pulse or Takashi Shimizu's Marebito. Mind you, I wasn't expecting something necessarily as good as any specific on of those movies, but something with that kind of wonderfully surrealistic energy.

With no connection to my decision to watch the movie, in the last day, I've reread Paul M. Sammon's essay, "Outlaws", featured as the afterword to the first Splatterpunks collection, and Tim Lucas's review of Takashi Miike's banned Masters of Horror episode, "Imprint", "Do I Disturb You, Mister?" Perhaps both of those had me too primed to watch something something that pushed boundaries and excited the imagination.

Perhaps that was too much to hope from a movie made by TriStar Pictures, based on a video game. Silent Hill is surrealism for people who need everything explained for them. It doesn't want you to think, to fill in gaps, to imagine. It doesn't to "haunt you, by treating you to moments of inexplicable macabre beauty", as Tim Lucas described the European horror makers doing in the interview he gave for the article Men on (Genre) Film... by Kim August.

This movie is far too intent on replicating obvious moments of video game action: "Hey, look there's something on the ground, this should come in useful!" "Here's a set of keys, I bet there's something I need to know in one of these drawers." "There's something in this corpse's mouth, it could be a clue." "Here's the map, study it carefully." "Congratulations on reaching your goal, here's the secrets you wanted!"

Everything I really liked about this movie were because of Dan Laustsen's wonderful cinematography that was stylized and moody, while rarely falling into the modern clichés of modern horror, color overstyling and jerky editing, such as seem to be abused quite fully in the upcoming remake of The Omen.

Anyway, I'm off to watch Satan's Blood.

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