Silent Hill Double Review

Preface

As you might have gathered from my other forays of video games turned into movies (Hitman: Agent 47 and the Tomb Raider films) I love video games. And with one of my university courses this year focussing on horror, I recently got back into one of the most interesting game franchises ever, Silent Hill. And since it’s one of the many franchises that has been adapted, I thought I would take a break from actual work and bring you another double review, Silent Hill and Silent Hill: Revelation.

Review

Silent Hill

Silent Hill stars Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden and Jodelle Ferland and is directed by Christophe Gans. The film follows Rose (Mitchell) as she tries to find her daughter Sharon (Ferland), after she loses her in the town of Silent Hill.

Games like Hitman or Tomb Raider, while they have some semblance of story are not the most cinematic of games. Silent Hill however, is very focussed on narrative and that’s one of the films strongest points. It’s a straight adaptation of the first game’s story, with minor points from the rest of the series thrown in as little Easter eggs for the fans. The major change in the story is changing the main character from male to female. Gans says that he made this change as when he was writing the film, the main character’s emotions and dialogue had more in line with a woman than a man. To be fair, the main character from the game, Harry Mason, hardly had a personality to begin with, so Gans would have had to create a background for whoever the main character was and Radha Mitchell does great as terrified mother Rose.

Gans does a good job of capturing the iconography of the series; the radio static, the misshapen Freudian monsters and the beautiful detail as the haunted town peels away into the “Otherworld”. This is another one of the films strong points, with CGI blending seamlessly with the built sets, creating a flaking snowfall effect to both bring in and take away the dark world.

The film does have several problems however. A lot of the cast seem to be hamming up the script (despite the original Silent Hill already having a lot of camp in it), with Sean Bean’s atrocious American accent being the cherry on top. Along with this, the film is very American in its horror, meaning the horror is mostly all gore and blood with no deeper meaning. Silent Hill was created in Japan, and a lot of their horror stems from psychology, but here a lot of that has been stripped backed for a more in-your-face approach. And just as a fan, why is Pyramid Head here? He’s a (spoiler alert) Freudian/Jungian manifestation of the main character from Silent Hill 2, him being in the film is a total undermining of his symbolism. But in fairness it is pretty good visualisation of the infamous monster.

In conclusion, Silent Hill has a few slip ups, but overall, it manages to capture the atmosphere of the game very well.

Score: 7/10 A good enough example of a video game film done right.

 

Silent Hill: Revelation

Silent Hill: Revelation stars Adelaide Clemens, Sean Bean, Kit Harrington and Malcolm McDowell with directing duties being moved over to Michael J. Bassett. The plot follows Heather (Clemens) who on her eighteenth birthday is called back to Silent Hill, with the town holding dark secrets about her past.

You won’t find a good Silent Hill film here. You won’t find a scary horror film here. You won’t even find a good film here. What you will find, if you ever decide to watch Silent Hill: Revelation, is something that flips from being incredibly tedious to unintentionally hilarious.

Where to start? Well, at the beginning. The film just starts in the middle of a conversation, with no build up to introducing the main characters or back-story to get us up to speed from what happened since the last film. I rewound the film several times because I was sure I had missed a few minutes of the film before realising that the film just begins abruptly.

Sean Bean’s American accent appears again and is terrible, but Bean is only the start of a selection of bad performances. Adelaide Clemens as Heather does nothing but scream and pout and Kit Harrington once again shows that the only good performance he can give is in Game of Thrones. Malcolm McDowell shows up for a couple of minutes in a dress and overacts his heart out. Sure, the script doesn’t help, with endless exposition and dialogue so wooden is basically a tree.

Quite a few of the monsters are done practically, but the effects are so poor you can tell it’s a guy in a mask. The rest of the monsters are created with cartoon levels of CGI which just adds to the “so-bad-it’s-good” quality of the film. Pyramid Head shows up again for no reason, becoming a good guy and helping the protagonists out at the end, which makes no sense.

The film was made for 3D viewing, so there are lots of moments when stuff is meant to be jumping at the camera. Since all I’ve seen is the normal version of the film, the spectacle of a blade being jabbed at the screen or blood flying at me doesn’t work and just makes the viewing experience worse.

It’s not like the film doesn’t try. There are a few moments when the snow is falling in the streets and enough of the plot and characters from Silent Hill 3 that it feels like a film that everyone involved thought it could be a good film. The fact that it tried and failed is fascinating to watch.

The ending is what really got me though. The film has the gall, the sheer temerity to not have one, but three sequel baits, with several characters from the series turning up. A sequel will never be made, which is good but also sad. This is one of the best series to adapt, but the people making it don’t know anything about Silent Hill.

In conclusion, Silent Hill: Revelation is one of the best comedies I’ve seen in a while. That sounds like praise, but then you remember that it was meant to be a horror film.

Score: 1/10 A slow-motion trainwreck of a movie.

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Spooks: The Greater Good Review

Films based of popular television shows have had a rocky history. With varying critical successes and fails such as Are You Being Served?, In The Loop, Ali G and The League of Gentlemen, it was with a wary anticipation that I went in Spooks: The Greater Good. But soon into the film that anticipation turned straight into despair.

Spooks: The Greater Good stars Peter Firth as Harry Pearce, who after a high level terrorist escapes from MI5 custody, goes off the grid to find the escaped terrorist himself. Harry’s protégé, Will Holloway, played by Kit Harrington, is brought back into the fold by MI5 to track down Harry and stop a terrorist attack on London.

I have seen a fair few Spooks episodes. They were always on quite late if I remember correctly, and though I never watched them every week, I did enjoy the ones I watched. Sadly however, I found only the bare minimum of enjoyment in watching Spooks: The Greater Good. One of the main problems for me was the casting of Kit Harrington in the lead role. His voice is monotone throughout the entire film, with the same going for his facial expression. Yes he is Jon Snow, and he maybe good in Game of Thrones (as everyone keeps reminding me) but he is not good here. Many of the cast have this same problem of zero emotion being displayed, with Peter Firth, Jennifer Ehle and Eleanor Matsuura succumbing to it as well. The only actor who does display any emotion is Tim McInnerny as Director-General of MI5 Oliver Mace, who delivers most of his lines with a sneering sense of disapproval.

Switching to the bad guys, our high level terrorist/bad guy Adem Qasim (played by another GoT alumni Elyes Gabel) is woefully underused. For how much the MI5 guys talk him up to be a high value terrorist, we only get around five minutes or less of film time devoted to him, meaning we don’t get to learn about him and why MI5 are so invested in why they want to hunt this man down in particular. In the press releases and in the film he is referred to as being very charismatic, but we don’t ever see this, which gives him a character trait that might have brought something a bit different to the table.

Fight and chase sequences are interspersed throughout the film, all with fluctuating quality. A gun battle/chase at the very beginning of the film is handled very well, but halfway through the film our old friend “shaky handheld cam” rears its ugly head. Fights are over in a series of quick motions, most of which happen with the actors backs to the camera, meaning we don’t get to see anything spectacular. You can see with the fast movements it was trying to copy the Bourne franchise, yet it never allows us to see these brutal flourishes of violence, leaving us as the audience wanting more. The final fight/terrorism scene is fairly well put together, even if it did keep cutting away to Kit Harrington’s bland face every couple of seconds.

There are some good things in the film, as usual. The music, created by Dominic Lewis (known for his work on Wreck-It Ralph and Big Hero 6) does have a nice vibe to it, with it being reminiscent of John Powell’s famous The Bourne Identity score. Several of the fight scenes I have already mentioned are put together fairly well, along with fleeting scenes throughout the film, such as a home invasion of an MI5 agent and some of the dialogue that is thrown around the Situation Room at the end of the film.

But overall, the film just feels very generic, with story points stolen from much better spy films, as well as stock character motives (Absent parents, revenge and redemption seem to be the sole things that define Kit Harrington’s character). In summary, Spooks: The Greater Good is not a bad film, but has nothing that makes it stand out from the crowd of modern spy movies. If you’re a fan of the series you might get kick out of the nods to older characters, but it’s nothing you’ll keep coming back to.

Score: 4/10 Add a couple of points to the score if you like the TV show