Monday, April 24, 2006


Let's be clear from the outset: Silent Hill is not a great movie. The acting is so-so, the imagery is among Hollywood’s goriest, the story is puzzling and it won’t win any Oscars, unless the Academy introduces an award for “Goriest Application of Barbed Wire.”

But, the one thing it does well is respect its source. Where Tomb Raider, Doom, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Wing Commander and Super Mario Brothers failed, Silent Hill actually gets it right. Where those others treat the game as a marketing tool without actually considering the game, Silent Hill taps its games for inspiration, story and mood.

Silent Hill sprang from four video games for the PlayStation by Konami. While Resident Evil was grossing out players with zombies, guns, bloody messes and action-filled gameplay, Silent Hill spooked out players with psychological horror and nightmarish, drug-induced visions. The first game, for the PS1, used a graphic limitation as a story element: Instead of a fade-to-black in the distance, the programmers made it gray and said the town of Silent Hill was covered in fog. When the more graphically-capable PS2 emerged, the designers made the fog even creepier.

The main character of Silent Hill is the fog-covered town itself. From hideous monsters to humans who fight their own demons as well as the bizarre creatures stalking through the town, Silent Hill is not the best place to take the family. Each of the four games is a heart-pounding, Lovecraftian adventure that takes game-playing to a new level.

Indeed, the movie plays out like watching nothing but the cut-scenes from a Silent Hill game. Fans might criticize how the movie takes bits and pieces from the four games to make its own story. But it works. Director Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf) paid close attention to how the game plays. He used the same crazy camera angles (including the first freaked out sequence in SH1), the same music, the same contrast of beauty and gore, the same silent, suspenseful pauses and the same creatures.

Gans shows an important thing: Video games have good stories that Hollywood doesn’t have to muck up. There is great storytelling available for the PS2 and Xbox. Silent Hill won’t win any awards, but it will help legitimize video games as an art form.

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]