Silent Hill (2006)
By: J.R. McNamara on January 23, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Universal (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.73:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. 120 minutes
The Movie
Director: Christophe Gans
Starring: Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Deborah Kara Unger, Kim Coates
Screenplay: Roger Avary
Music: Jeff Danna, Akira Yamaoka
Tagline: Enjoy your stay
Country: USA
Video game adaptations: love them or hate them it appears this trend is here to stay. For years we have gotten our video games from movie licenses, and it was only a matter of time before the reverse happened. Doom, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, House of the Dead… oh, and Super Mario Bros: as games, most gamers will give a 'Yeah!!' of approval, but as movies…well, let's just say Bob Hoskins in red overalls just isn't quite right. Silent Hill is one of these game-to-film adaptations and is loosely based on the 1999 video game of the same name.

Silent Hill tells of a young adoptee, Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) who suffers from somnambulism (sleepwalking), and constantly puts herself at risk. Her mother, Rose De Silva (Radha Mitchell) hears her crying for a place called Silent Hill while in her trances and has decided, much to her husband Christopher's (Sean Bean) disapproval, that the answer to her problem must stem from this unknown place. She makes the trip to the now abandoned town and along the way is pursued by local police officer Cybill Bennett (Laurie Holden) who becomes suspicious of the two travelers. Upon approach to Silent Hill, Rose has to swerve to avoid a child on the road, and she is knocked unconscious. Once awake she discovers her daughter is missing and she journeys into the town to find her. She soons discovers a town not as abandoned as she first thought. A town filled with religious zealots, and horrible monsters…

Taking the basis for the storyline (the missing girl in a strange town) and using that as a starting point is an inspired idea. The game's story was a good one, but a lot of us played the game and know how it plays out, so the changes made are excellent. Director Christophe Gans and writer Roger Avery's visions of hell on Earth are disturbing, and the plight of the main characters gets you in…eventually.

The images in this film are wonderfully unsettling, the actor's performances are spot on (Alice Kreige's performance as religious nut, Christabella is amazing) and the depictions of the monsters are powerful, but its probably not gorey enough for the seasoned gorehound, and unfortunately the film's epilogue is something of an anti climax.
This film is presented in 16:9 widescreen and is an excellent image that is free from any and all artefacts, not that this is immediately identifiable for most of the film due to the constant ash in the air, or the almost complete darkness. There is one problem however – it's presented in an incorrect aspect ratio! The region 1 disc (review) presents the film in its correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio, however the Region 4 transfer is approximately 1.73:1 with picture information missing from the left and right sides of the frame, and additional picture information visible on the top and bottom of the frame.
The soundtrack is in Dolby Digital 5.1, and makes full use of it. I didn't know where the next spooky sound was going to come from!! This film really uses to 5.1 set up to great effect.
Extra Features
Paths of Darkness: Making Silent Hill (58 minutes 36 seconds) is a pretty thorough look at the making of the film, and I have to say, enhanced my enjoyment of it. The way the make up artists and monster actors could twist their bodies made me unsure whether or not I was watching great performances or odd CGI… I was glad it was the former. This is a good template for a making of!!

Trailer (2 minutes 20 seconds) is the trailer for the film.

Featurette (4 minutes 45 seconds) is a really crap summary of the Making of documentary, and was probably a short promo piece for MTV or something of its ilk.
The Verdict
This is a visually impressive film with some great beasts and decent character performances. It might take a second go to fully get into, so be patient and give it another shot. Be warned though, for such a visually suspenseful beginning, the epilogue is a severe anticlimax. If you want to see this movie the way the director intended (in its correct aspect ratio) however you'll have to import it.
Movie Score
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