SILENT HILL

Available (if you pay) from OnDemand by Verizon. Also available if you have certain Verizon add-on “Premium Channels,” with subscription.

THE QUICK AND DIRTY DEETS

A movie complex enough I have trouble distilling it into a clever, one-sentence quip. Just watch it.

  • Girly Groove Rating: 4.5/5, or 9/10
  • Scares: 9.5/10
  • Low Jump Scares, High Genuine Creep Factor, Mid-Grade CGI
  • Low on Unnecessary Machismo and Liam Neeson

THOTS

Ah, Silent Hill. The movie which spawned the only horror imagery which, upon encountering it during one of those self-guided walks through a Haunted Horror Attraction, caused me to stop in my tracks and actually consider turning back instead of finishing the walk and leaving the intended way, through the exit of the “ride.” The specific image that I encountered that night was walking into a large, open room – with a band of nurses frozen in place in the center, which spooked adventurers had to walk through in order to continue on their voyage. I froze in place for minutes.

Silent Hill is one of my long-time Top Favorite Horror Films, and I decided to re-watch it this weekend just for fun. I was about halfway through when it struck me, to my delight, that like last post’s The Descent, Silent Hill is an excellent feminist film as well as an example of primo modern horror. Not only does it pass the Bechdel test repeatedly (one might even say “with flying colors”), but if you check out this largest analysis ever of film scripts by gender, which I referenced in the last post, Silent Hill also blows it out of the water in terms of female-spoken dialogue and, therefore, representation within the film.

There are a couple of factors, at least, which drive my affection for the movie. As I watched it this weekend, I tried to put them into coherent words. I hope, in this post, I succeed – instead of simply raving. 🙂

For a horror movie, the plot of Silent Hill is satisfying complex. First, we have the oft-forgotten frame story, where Rose, Sharon, and Rose’s husband exist in the normal, day-to-day universe, and which establishes Rose’s conviction that Sharon must return to Silent Hill. Then, our split narrative (Rose’s as she searches for Sharon, and the husband’s as he pursues them both) allows the movie to demonstrate clear alternative universes without ever having to clumsily explain the world-split in awkward, manufactured dialogue.

That’s another key point which clinches Silent Hill‘s success: the script is tight, the dialogue is extremely believable, and even in the moments where one could see how this dialogue was pulled from a video game, this observation is not as a result of stilted, unrealistic speech, but because in both video games and movies, a hallmark of the storyline’s success is the subtle reveal of vital information through character-to-character dialogue.

Moreover, the actual horror imagery depicted throughout Silent Hill captivate me, and I suspect they do so in such degree due to their unusual, captivating nature. Instead of relying on familiar monsters, Silent Hill invents its own monsters. From twisted, headless “ash babies,” which look kind of like physically twisted children made of black ash, covering a body of embers, to Pyramid Man, his accompanying beetle entourage, and so on, these representations of the evil lurking in Silent Hill are so different from standard horror depictions that they have become emblems of the movie and video game franchise. They cannot be mistaken for the horror fantasies of any other film.

In addition to all of this, I have to admit that any movie which has an underlying theme of caution against overly-fanatic organized religion wins points in my favor. Ultimately, this movie could even be interpreted as a warning of the dangers of societies which engage in slut-shaming and making pariahs out of the weakest, and most innocent.

I really can’t recommend Silent Hill enough to any horror buffs looking for something which will stay with them, echoing and lurking in dark corners of the brain, for much longer than the simple viewing.

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