If like horror movies and you’re willing to watch something different, Silent Hill won’t disappoint.
Despite the obvious similarities between the two franchises, I don’t think the Silent Hill series of video games shouldn’t be compared to Resident Evil so often. Although they share the tank controls and they both belong to the survival horror genre, the former is a surreal, unconventional and bizarre take on the genre that easily sets it apart from its peers. To many, the Silent Hill film is also similar to the Resident Evil ones, but let me tell you that the former isn’t only better, but also easier to recommend.
Sharon is a normal 9-year old girl: she likes drawing lions, going to the park and playing with her toys. But there’s also something very wrong with her. When she sleepwalks, she has visions that tell her to go back to a small town called Silent Hill. This is the place where was from before her parents adopted her and something is telling her to go back to the “tainted town.” She’s getting worse by the minute, so her mother Rose decides to take her to the infamous ghost town with the hope that Sharon can get better and the family can put all those problems behind.
But as soon as they arrive to Silent Hill there’s a car accident and when Rose comes to, her little girl is nowhere to be found. On top of that, there are ashes covering the city and making the situation even worse. Soon enough, Rose realizes that the thick fog is the least of her worries. The few citizens living in Silent Hill are gathering for a witch hunt in an abandoned church where the torture people with fire and some inventive ladder-looking contraptions.
The surreal elements from the games are part of this adaptation and to me, that was a pleasant surprise since that’s one of my favorite parts of the Silent Hill series. Like in the games, we see how the protagonist’s transported between the real world and a dreamlike more twisted world and this dichotomy makes reality and nightmares more difficult to distinguish. The things that happen in the dream world are twisted and sadistic-looking creatures that appear are hard to describe. There’s no way to leave the city and some terrifying creatures populate the deserted city, so Rose and officer Bennet need to find a way to locate the missing girl and get out of Silent Hill as soon as they can.
It’s worth mentioning that the film is based on the Silent Hill series as a whole, so you’ll see elements from the first, second, third and fourth games. That makes the story confusing at times, since you’ll see monster, cult followers and other iconic elements that were taken from the games. At times, the inclusion of some elements (such as Pyramid Head) feels like too much fan service and people who have never played or heard of the games will be left with too many questions. It’s like the people involved in this film felt the obligation to include the most iconic parts of the Silent Hill games and while some of them fit in nicely, others feel contrived and hurt the story.
That said, the visual aspect looks outstanding and translated remarkably well to the film. The use of fog, the enemy design and seeing how the environments change between reality and the other-world looks amazing in the big screen. Unlike the Resident Evil movies which focus more on action, Silent Hill is a truly terrifying experience set in a bleak and dark world. There are also a lot of surreal and grainy special effects that look experimental in the best ways possible.
In the end, Silent Hill is a terrifying film that can be experienced as intended by die-hard fans of the games. I can see people who have never heard of Silent Hill enjoying this film, but some parts won’t make a lot of sense. As long as you like horror movies and you’re willing to watch something different, Silent Hill won’t disappoint.