Thoughts on Why I Like the Silent Hill Movies

So, let’s take a break from looking at new horror movies to talk about some ones that I’ve already watched and already made it into the closet to rewatch, and that I in fact recently rewatched:  “Silent Hill” and “Silent Hill:  Revelation”.  Now, neither of these are movies that the critics actually enjoyed, although they like “Silent Hill” a little bit better than “Silent Hill:  Revelation”.  So these should be movies that I graded low and tossed in a closet.  Of course, I watched and likely even bought them long before I ever started doing these posts, but even on rewatches I still do enjoy them, despite what the critics say about them.  So why is that?

I have to admit that I like “Silent Hill:  Revelation” a lot better than “Silent Hill”, but the latter is kinda required viewing for the former.  One thing that likely helps me enjoy them more is that while the story was changed significantly in “Silent Hill” at least there is a connection to a broader world from the video games that I can relate to.  A lot of the complaints I have about horror movies is that the plots are not explained and the elements of them aren’t paid off, but in “Silent Hill” there’s a background that I can easily rely on to get the gist of the world and fill in gaps that the movie might leave.  (The ironic thing here is that all of this is by osmosis from what people like Shamus Young have said about it.  I own a number of the Silent Hill games — including 3, which was the basis for “Revelation” — but I only played 2 for any significant amount of time, which is the game that is left out in these two movies).

But I have to also note that “Revelation” is the sort of horror movie that I really like, as I joked that it should be called “Exposition” because it spends most of its time explaining things with the horror sequences tossed in to remind everyone that this is indeed actually a horror movie.  But I really, really like that sort of horror, where we find out all the horrible things that are going on and so have an intellectual context for it.  That’s why I liked “Rose Red” so much, and why I really like the early sections of “The Blair Witch Project” where they are doing the documentary part and am not as fond of the later parts which are supposed to be the really scary ones.  So despite its flaws, it hits all of the notes that I want a movie to hit, which is why I like it so much.

For “Silent Hill”, the game gives me a background for the world and I like Radha Mitchell’s Rose, which lets me go through the movie and enjoy it, which is more than I can say for some of the other movies I watch.  So that’s why I like it as well.

And finally, despite the flaws, I’d argue that the movies are in general competently done, and basic competence seems to be something that’s rare in the movies I watch.  All you’d need to do, then, to get to the closet for rewatches is have a plot for me to follow and be generally competent.  That so many of the movies I watch may not reach that point may be a reflection of the fact that my selection process biases me towards what would be called “B-Movies” in the past — as I buy the cheap ones — but also may be a reflection of how so many of those movies can’t even manage that.

(Note that I’d consider “The Thing” competent in its movie-making, but find the plot and explanations for the elements insufficient in a movie where there’s really nothing else to do but wonder about that.  This is also an issue with some modern movies, but they do a worse job of it than “The Thing” did.  Part of my annoyance with that movie is that it could have been better and better used its premise and, in my opinion, didn’t).

So that’s what you need to do to get to the rewatch closet:  explain your plot and be competent.  Very few of the movies I’ve watched over these past years for these posts have managed that, which is a real pity.

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2 Responses to “Thoughts on Why I Like the Silent Hill Movies”

  1. Marc McKenzie Says:

    I liked the first SILENT HILL movie very much (I confess that I never saw the second one). As someone who had played the first and second games, I thought the film really nailed the look and the general…well, eerie nature of the game. The first film was directed by Christophe Gans, who had made the solid THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF and CRYING FREEMAN, one of the best live-action films based on a manga (ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL is another).

    • verbosestoic Says:

      I do think that it captured that fairly well, from what I remembered from my short play of the second game. I think it missed out some of the more creepy aspects of the town itself in terms of plot, but it didn’t really contradict them either, which made it work.

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