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Silent Hill

Silent Hill

By Patrick Samuel • September 14th, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 3/5
TriStar Pictures

Original release: April 21st, 2006
Running time: 125 minutes

Director: Christophe Gans
Writers Roger Avary, Konami
Compser: Akira Yamaoka

Cast: Radha Mitchell, Laurie Holden, Jodelle Ferland, Alice Krige, Sean Bean. Deborah Kara Unger, Kim Coates

Silent Hill

I’ve never liked crowded places and for a long time I used to dream about finding an old abandoned town somewhere and living out the rest of my days there, unhindered by the hustle and bustle of busy streets and noisy commuters. In my daydreams it wouldn’t be that bad, though abandoned there’d still be enough supplies to keep me going; I’d learn how to be self sufficient and grow the rest of what I’d need to survive. Together with a nearby supply of fresh water and possibly even a library, I’d never be annoyed by overcrowding on trains, pushy shoppers in supermarkets and people who don’t look where they’re walking because they’re texting, reading or talking on their mobile phones.

Yet the reality of encountering such a town might be completely different. Take for example Prypiat in the Ukraine, abandoned since the Chernobyl disaster on April 26th, 1986 and still considered dangerous due to radioactive contamination in the atmosphere. Who’d want to escape to such a place? In Japan there’s a 20-kilometer no-go zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster following the T?hoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11th, 2011. Another place you’d not want to stop at for any length of time. In Pennsylvania, United States there’s Centralia, abandoned since a mine fire burning beneath the town in 1962 which continues to burn to this day, and may do so for 250 more years. Centralia however, served as the inspiration for the town featured here in Silent Hill, adapted from the video game created by Konami.

The film begins with a frantic scream as Rose (Radha Mitchell) and her husband, Christopher (Sean Bean) are seen searching for their missing daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) who’s been sleepwalking and calling the name of a town, “Silent Hill”. Wanting to find answers, and against Christopher’s wishes, Rose decides to take her daughter to the town, but on the way she’s followed by police officer Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden) who believe she’s harming Sharon. As they approach Silent Hill, Rose swerves to avoid hitting a girl she sees on the road and in the process she crashes the car and is knocked unconscious. By the time she wakes, Sharon’s nowhere to be found, there’s a thick fog hovering and ash falls from the sky.

Silent Hill

From here on in, Silent Hill becomes a nightmare as Rose searches for her missing daughter and tries to unravel the mystery of what happened there. She meets Dahlia Gillespie (Deborah Kara Unger), a woman who tells her about her own daughter Alessa who was abused by the townspeople and whom she now believes to be Sharon. After Cybil sees for herself that something’s not quite right about Silent Hill she becomes Rose’s ally.

Together they encounter faceless monsters, horribly deformed creatures, nurses with knives and Pyramid Head, a humanoid monster with a triangle-shaped helmet who wields a terrifyingly large blade. Yet none those prepare them for meeting Christabella (Alice Krige), the leader of a fanatical religious cult who tries to have both Rose and Cybil condemned as witches when she learns of the resemblance between Sharon and Alessa. Krige plays the role wonderfully, coming across like Katharine Hepburn from Hell.

As Christopher tries to find his wife and daughter though, all he encounters is a deserted town – no ash, no fog, no monsters or religious cult. Aided by Officer Thomas Gucci (Kim Coates) he learns about the coal seam fire thirty years ago and Silent Hillfinds a photo of Alessa. Despite their attempts to contact each other, Rose and Christopher seem to be on different planes of existence, hoping to be reunited at some point.

I’ve never been fond of movies based on computer games. For example, Tomb Raider and Resident Evil both never really engaged me as far as the plots were concerned. They felt very drawn out and primarily occupied with emulating moments in the games that established them as hits among fans without trying to build a story that felt gripping or progressed with any kind of dramatic flair or insight when it came to the characters. Silent Hill, in this sense, isn’t all that different, but it dos have a few things going for it those movies didn’t.

With a score composed by Akira Yamaoka that helps us form an immediate connection with Rose and Sharon, Silent Hill has a feeling of tragedy all around it. Together with images of ash falling around the town that recalls the 9/11 footage we saw after the planes impacted on the World Trade Center towers, and shortly after their destruction, there’s something about the film which goes beyond horror and action and more towards a deep sense of sadness as we find out what took place there which condemned it to Hell.

While I might outgrown the idea of settling down in an old abandoned town, I’d still be up for exploring one, but not one that’s been the victim to a nuclear disaster, a coal seam fire or even a religious cult leader like Christabella.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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