Video games have always had a hard time making the jump to movies; yet one genre that’s had some decent success with its adaptations is horror. The Resident Evil movies are reliably fun zombie flicks, and the original Silent Hill was pretty well received at the time. So we now get a sequel several years after the original came out that no one was really expecting or even asking for. Will it follow the trend and be another decently made horror film based off a world-renowned video game series? No. No it’s not. Keep reading if you really want to find out why.
First of all, it’s been a long ass time since I’ve seen the original, so I think we could all use a quick recap. Rose and Christopher have an adoptive daughter Sharon. Sharon wants to go to Silent Hill for some reason (sleepwalking, bad dreams, etc) so Rose takes her there against Christopher’s wishes. It turns out that Sharon is the good half of a ritualistic burn victim named Alessa, who I think was supposed to be a witch. The movie ends with Alessa killing the cult that burned her, then fusing with Sharon, but then Rose and Sharon are stuck in Silent Hill. You got that? Okay, let’s jump into the sequel.
The movie beings with a young woman running towards a creepy as hell looking carnival, so you KNOW she’s in trouble if she’d rather be in there than face whatever is after her. It seems that she’s being chased by a bunch of guys in cloaks who seem to be half-assing their search for her. At one point she hides on a Merry-Go-Round and for some reason Pyramid Head is controlling the thing.
Then a zombified version of her appears and tells her to stay the fuck out of Silent Hill, and then the zombie girl sets everyone on fire. The girl slowly turns into a bad CG burn victim before waking up and screaming her head off. Her dad comes in (played by Sean Bean who is reprising his role as Christopher from the first movie), reassures her that it was all just a dream, and lets her know to STAY THE FUCK OUT OF SILENT HILL! Then the dad gets stabbed by… the Guyver?
Surprise! Double dream fake out! Holy shit; I don’t think I’ve seen that since Wicker Man. The movie then does one of the most annoying things that bad horror movies do, and that’s to do an edit scare. The movie immediately cuts to the next scene, and the cut is accompanied by a loud noise. What do we cut to? A fucking POPTART!
Damn dude, did you put gunpowder into the toaster? Anyway, it turns out that Christopher and the young girl are moving and changing identities again, which is something they do frequently. The girl’s new name is Heather (wink wink), but she USED to be called Sharon a long time ago! Wait, how the hell did she get out of Silent Hill? It also turns out that this movie is gonna be fan service-arific because Christopher’s new name is Harry (Wink wink) and Heather gets some VERY specific clothing for her birthday.
Heather goes off to her first day of school, and Harry riffles through her things, looking for evidence that she knows what Silent Hill is. It’s odd because he’s looking through her dream diary which has a lot of weird stuff in it, but only rips out the page she wrote SILENT HILL on. What is that supposed to do? Is she going to FORGET she wrote it down? Not only that, but we find out that he has an envelope where he keeps similar pages.
I guess you could say he’s trying stuff even though it probably won’t work, but I still can’t follow the logic in ripping out random pages of someone’s dream diary. Have you seen what happens when you DON’T rip the pages out? Does she start turning into a demon if the words Silent Hill are anywhere near her? He pulls out a picture of him, young Heather (i.e. Sharon/Aleesa), and Rose. Then he has flashbacks where we find out that Rose was able to get Sharon out of Silent Hill because… there was a hole?
Okay, so THEY (the cult? Demons?) are after Sharon who was able to escape Silent Hill, but doesn’t remember anything about it. We cut back to Heather who’s walking to school when she encounters a homeless man. She’s somehow fascinated by the sight of a bum, and stares at him for a few seconds. The guy must not like this, because he puts on a spooky face and Heather does the most sensible thing of all. WALK BACKWARDS DIRECTLY INTO TRAFFIC!
After almost getting run over she runs into this one dude who recognizes her, but she blows him off and runs to school. Once there, she introduces herself to the class in the most conspicuous way possible.
There’s also another new kid (Vincent) who’s probably going to be significant because the movie bothers to point him out. Between classes, Heather hallucinates again and sees one of the bad guys from the games.
She runs into Vincent again (snapping her out of the hallucination), who then proceeds to hit on her, but she blows him off. Giving up on her education for the day, she decides to leave the school, but notices that the guy from earlier (the one who recognized her) is standing outside like a creeper. Assuming he’s someone after her or Harry, she calls up her dad and lets him know she’s being followed. Harry tells her to meet him at the mall before hanging up, and on the way out he gets edit-napped. That’s where someone appears to be captured, but we don’t know who or why because the movie cuts to a new scene.
Heather is in the mall and sure enough starts hallucinating again. The scene is rather pointless and frankly really silly, so we’re gonna skip ahead a bit. Sure enough, the creeper has been following her and corners her in the mall’s basement where he proceeds to bend over and just take a dump of exposition on the audience.
So get this. This guy is a private investigator hired by The Order of Valtiel which is the cult that I THOUGHT was destroyed by Aleesa in the first movie, and are now stuck in Silent Hill. HOW a cult locked in a town that can’t be escaped from (i.e. why Rose stayed) is beyond me, but they SOMEHOW hired this dude. It gets better, not only did this guy not realize he was working for a witch burning cult, but when he DID find out (HOW!?!?) he decided to help Heather. Unfortunately he already told them she was here before he found out who he was working for, so his heroic “warning” is a bit too late. If he knew that was her at the beginning, then why didn’t he say this to her then!? The first time they meet, he says “Do I know you from somewhere?” YES! YOU DO! She’s the one whose location you gave up to a bunch of homicide nutcases! Don’t you remember!? Somehow, this guy also knows EXACTLY who Heather is (Aleesa’s good side) and how she escaped from the first movie. This comes as a surprise to Heather who Harry had always told that her mother died in a car crash and that’s why she couldn’t remember anything. She also believes they’re on the run because harry killed someone in self-defense, as opposed to be stalked by a cult… who aren’t supposed to be able to leave Silent Hill. What the fuck is going on in this movie!? After this expositional onslaught, they get attacked by The Guyver who SOMEHOW showed up in this mall that is not even remotely close to Silent Hill.
The Guyver kills of the P.I. and Heather runs her ass off through this building which is still supposed to be the basement of a mall. She finds her way out rather quickly, but runs face first into a shit ton of cops who are looking for whoever it was that killed the P.I. I’m sorry, WHAT!?!?
How the hell did the cops get there already? WHO FOUND THE BODY!? Oh, it gets even better. The cop leads Heather to outside the crime scene area without asking her a single question. Not a minute after Heather leaves, the cops bring out a piece of clothing she left behind which has her name in it. Not only that, but the P.I. had a picture of her in his wallet. If you hurry, you might just catch up with her! Oh no wait, there’s another thing that happened I forgot to mention. Guess who was standing behind the barricade and conveniently ran into Heather? Give you a hint, it’s not Joseph Stalin.
Yeah, I’m calling bullshit here. Vincent could not have just COINCIDENTALY shown up. This is either some shit writing or convoluted crap. They take a bus to her house and have a chat about dreams or something. The kid’s father and grandfather apparently did some dream research and are now locked up in nut houses. They part ways when they get to her house and she goes inside to find a message waiting for her.
Heather screams which sends Vincent running back and seeing the message. They go upstairs to look through Harry’s Silent Hill box and find lots of documentation as well as some sort of giant coin and a gun. The cops show up and knock on the door, so the two of them bolt out the window and get in someone’s car. I think its Harry’s but if it was, wouldn’t the cops have heard it starting up? Did Harry park the car eight blocks down the road just in case the police come by? They hit the road, head for Silent Hill, and we get even more exposition. This time in the form of a letter that Harry wrote in case he wound up with a severe case of death.
It turns out that Harry did in fact kill a man in self-defense. What Heather didn’t know was that the man was sent by the cult to kill Harry and take Heather (the cult that can’t get out of Silent Hill, yet is able to send one of their own to stab someone). The movie actually shows the attack and it is god damn hysterical. The guy with the knife is standing INSIDE the house next to the front door. Harry opens the door and the attacker tries to take out Harry.
The fight goes into the next room (2 feet away) and Heather is in there screaming at the scene. Did it not occur to her that the strange man wielding a knife and waiting next to the front door might be an issue?
Is this supposed to be a fucking joke? The overly convoluted story lines, the crappy CG monsters, and now the horrible fucking staging? How many more ways can this movie FAIL!? Oh trust me, there are PLENTY of ways this will continue to suck, I guarantee it. We cut back to the car and find out some more pointless and stupid stuff. I swear to you this is true. Silent Hill was built on ANCIENT INDIAN BURIAL GROUND!!! I’m losing it. I don’t know how much more of this I can take. We also learn the cult wants to resurrect an evil god through a “chosen” child, (Aleesa) but then they burned Aleesa nearly to death, which led to her releasing monsters into the town and sealing it off from the rest of the world. That actually might be interesting. Since Aleesa and Heather are the same person (sort of) it might be an interesting twist if the monsters of Silent Hill actually end up helping her fight the cult instead of just wandering around. Please writers. Please do SOMETHING with this movie that would be at least a LITTLE interesting! The kids stop off at a motel and Heather has bad dreams about Aleesa. When she wakes up, she finds that Vincent hasn’t gone to sleep and asks him what’s on his mind. Are you ready? I bet you’re not gonna see this one coming. He turns around DRAMATICALLY (similar to dramatic look gopher) and tells her that he is a child of the cult and was sent specifically to take her to Silent Hill.
WOW. Thanks movie. Thanks for getting even stupider. First of all, how the fuck did he get out? They actually bother to answer this question by saying that people can escape for short periods of time through some bullshit ritual that leaves the guy with a manhole sized scar on their chest.
Oh! Okay! That explains everything right!? NO!!!!! I went back and looked at the scene where Harry is attacked, and they show a decent portion of the attacker’s chest. Tattooed, but NOT scarred! Also, they never bother explaining what the hell happens when their “time runs out” or telling us how long they have. So let’s think about the Private Investigator. A cult member gets this fucked up surgery, goes to the nearest town, and finds a P.I. The cult SOMEHOW has the money to do this, but it’ll probably take some time for the dude to hunt down Heather. That means that more likely than not, the guy from the cult is gonna get dragged back to Silent Hill before the P.I. finds the girl. This means the cult leader had to have set a very specific date to get the info by, or the cult would have to do this “escape ritual” over and over again on different members so that someone will always be on the outside waiting for a damn phone to ring. This still doesn’t explain what the hell The Guyver is doing outside of Silent Hill, but the movie doesn’t give a shit about explaining that. The problem with the first half of this movie is that it’s almost a constant stream of information that doesn’t make any sense in the movie. A movie can be vague about how certain elements and still work, but if it takes the time to explain this god damn much about the world, the rules, and everything else, then it HAS to make since or else you’re wasting the audience’s time.
Alright, so Vincent has decided to betray his family and keep this girl out of Silent Hill, but she’s pissed at him and still wants to go save her dad. When Vincent tries to keep her from leaving, the room starts to transition into the dark world, or whatever it’s called in Silent Hill, and then The Guyver comes out of nowhere and knocks them out. It’s clear that Heather is somehow causing the transition into the dark world, but that just brings up more questions. Did this happen because she was upset? If so, then how the hell is this the first time this is happening!? She’s never been upset before? Having to spend her entire youth moving from school to school to escape the authorities has been a completely calming and peaceful childhood!? Whatever. When she wakes up, she finds herself in Silent Hill and I’ll be damned if the movie doesn’t actually improves dramatically! For about four minutes, the movie shuts the fuck up as Heather wanders around the town just looking around and taking in the atmosphere. The thick clouds of fog and falling ash works pretty decently to evoke the slightly off mood that Silent Hill is supposed to have, and the sparse sound design used here fits the tone perfectly. Then another character has to open their damn mouth, and it’s yet another returning cast member!
Deborah Unger returns as Aleesa’s mother, and all she does is elaborate on her daughter (isn’t Heather her daughter too in a way?), how she was burned (spoiler alert: The cult did it) and that Heather was taken away from Silent Hill to an orphanage. After this exposition dump (what is this, the fifteenth one?) she fucks off for the rest of the movie. Heather just wanders around town with no clear destination until she ends up in a room with what I WISH was the stupidest fucking thing in this movie. So she basically wanders into a remake of the wax museum where some random T and A is getting turned into a mannequin… for some reason.
WHO THE FUCK IS SHE!? WHY THE FUCK IS SHE HERE!? HOW DID SHE END UP IN SILENT HILL!? The movie doesn’t give much a fuck, and just expects us to accept it. Heather finds another woman there who isn’t currently being turned into a Barbie doll, and frees her from her plastic wrap bonds. Then a stupid fucking monster shows up (I have no idea if it was ever in a Silent Hill game) that looks like a spider made of mannequin pieces. It MIGHT have been effective if the movie didn’t spend so much time forcing us to look at it at every angle so we can appreciate the artistry put into it, but maybe thinking of this as a horror film at this point is expecting way too much.
Tip for horror filmmakers: The audience’s imagination works much better than any CGI monster. PUT THEM IN THE DARK!! Heather escapes, but the other girl gets eaten by the mannequin thingy. The monster doesn’t chase Heather anymore and this scene is never brought up again. We cut from this to wherever the hell the cult is, whose leader is currently giving Vincent a stern talking to.
It turns out the leader is the sister of whoever the hell was the leader in the last movie as well as Vincent’s mother. The rest of the cult wants his head on a platter, but she spares him by sending him to the asylum for reprogramming. When we get back to him later in the movie, you’ll see why this makes no god damn sense. We also see that the cult was responsible for Harry’s kidnapping and that they have him chained up in their headquarters. I’m sure there are at least two burly motherfuckers in that room with fresh scars on their stomachs whose mission it was to kidnap Harry, but are now missing outside things like Burger King and clean toilets. We cut back to Heather who finds the local asylum, and once again the movie is doing something that works. She finds a flashlight and starts looking around the place which is naturally dark as hell. She goes into an office and riffles through some documents looking for clues. She leaves with a new destination in mind, but has to fight off a monster along the way which she ends up shooting in the face.
These scenes that at least evoke the spirit of the games are so far the best ones in the movie. You couldn’t make a movie made of JUST these scenes, but when the rest of your movie is nonsensical gibberish, it really highlights the need for scenes of subtle mood building and a focus on what’s happening on screen instead of saying what’s happening elsewhere. This brief window of competence doesn’t last however because Heather reaches her destination. It turns out that in the office she found out that Vincent’s grandfather is in the asylum somewhere, so decides that he would be a good place to start getting answers from. She opens the door and finds that “Grandpa Nutty Pants” is played by none other than Malcolm McDowell.
God damn dude, I sat through Firestarter 2: Rekindled. How much more do you plan on testing my undying love for you? Do you HAVE to only appear in the absolute worst pieces of shit!? He doesn’t say anything that fucking matters. The only thing he does is reveal what the giant coin does. Remember that? It was in Harry’s Silent Hill box for some reason. So the giant coin is actually only half of… I guess an even bigger coin. Where’s the other half? INSIDE MALCOLM MCDOWELL!!!! WHAT!?!?!? Yeah, he takes Heather’s coin, shoves inside of him, and then the two coins fuse together… which turns him into a stupid rubber monster for some reason.
I have no god damn clue where he’s taking her, but it doesn’t matter because she kills the bastard almost immediately. Remember how he has a gaping hole in his body where the now DOUBLE coin resides? Well she reaches into the hole and takes it out. Yup. The guy barely seems to notice her doing this, but once the giant coin is removed the monster turns to dust. Sure. Why not. Thanks Mr. McDowell. I hope you enjoy that fucking check you got. She wanders around even more and gets grabbed by some random dudes stretching their arms between the bars of their cells. What is this, a fucking spook house!? Anyway, she gets away pretty easily and hides in an alcove or something, and then Pyramid Head shows up. All he does is chop some the guys’ arms off, and then walk away. Okay… thanks for that?
Heather, just as confused as the audience, wanders around the asylum some more (where the fuck is she trying to go?) and then she sees some cult members taking Vincent (strapped to a table) to an operating room. I’m assuming they’re here to “reprogram” him in some way, but it doesn’t matter. You know why? THE OPERATING ROOM IS FILLED TO THE BRIM WITH MONSTER NURSES!!!
Why? No seriously. WHY!? What are you doing taking this guy (who presumably the cult leader wants to live) to a room filled with monsters? What surgery are you about to perform that could POSSIBLY be helped by having these creatures try to stab you while you’re doing it!? Sure enough, the two cult leaders get killed almost immediately by the nurses. What the fuck is going on!? The nurses don’t kill Vincent immediately because they apparently only have a sense of sound, which means that Heather can sneak in quietly and interrogate the hapless dude. She finds out that her dad is being held in The Sanctuary which is below the amusement park. The two of them barely escape the wrath of the killer nurses with big boobies and head to the park with great haste. Sure enough, the amusement park is the same she saw in her dream at the beginning of the movie. Remember that? Wow, how long ago was that? It feels like it’s been a fucking eternity. They’re being chased by some dudes called The Brethren who are super devoted members of the cult that kick ass and wear masks. Why do they wear masks? Because they believe breathing the air is gonna corrupt them. We’ll get back to that. Anyway, Vincent decides to use himself as a distraction to lure away the troops so that Heather can reach the sanctuary. Of course, one of them hangs behind and finds Heather, but Heather rips off his mask in the fight, and he actually starts to spew black… stuff.
So… these people ARE allergic to the Silent Hill air? Why? No one else from the cult is dying, like oh say VINCENT!! Some more Brethren guys start chasing her and sure enough, she ends up on the Merry-Go-Round which is being operated by Pyramid Head. A bunch of people surround the Merry-Go-Round, but then a fire starts and all of them die. Aleesa appears on the Merry-Go-Round to confront Heather and they have another exposition dump.
What is that, the second Army of Darkness joke I’ve done so far? Why aren’t I watching that instead? Alright, so Aleesa’s pissed that Heather came to Silent Hill because she’s supposed to be the good half that has a happy life while Aleesa stays here and fucks with the cult who are responsible for creating her. Fair enough. It’s probably the closest thing to a coherent plot this movie has. Aleesa runs this little sandbox to torture those who set her on fire, and Heather is her weak spot that the cult wants to exploit to get their freedom. Cool. Only fifteen minutes left of the movie and they finally explain what the fuck is going on. Of course, Aleesa FOR SOME REASON doesn’t want Heather to rescue Harry. Why? Because “Sacrifices have to be made.” You wanna fucking elaborate there Aleesa? It seems like you’d need a damn good justification for killing the father of your half who’s supposed to be happy, and being vague right now isn’t gonna help you. Not only that, but Aleesa threatens to kill Heather! WHY!?!? What sense does that make? Didn’t you JUST say you wanted her to stay out of Silent Hill so that at least half of you isn’t wallowing in hate and misery? Heather isn’t afraid and… I think they fuse together? Heather collapses on the Merry-Go-Round and wakes up outside of The Sanctuary. Apparently the ride was actually some elaborate way of getting there. She finds her father and has to confront the cult leader (Vincent’s mother) who thanks her for killing Aleesa and bringing her the giant coin (the one she ripped out of Malcolm McDowell’s body). Despite their appreciation for what Heather has done, they still have to be dicks and plan to use her to carry a demon baby while sacrificing her father to it. Well that seems a bit excessive. Anyway, the cult leader has some sort of Force powers and knocks Heather to ground. Heather agrees to give the leader the giant coin, but she seems sure that shit is gonna go wrong. The leader grabs it and then… something happens. I don’t know why they thought this was a good idea. It makes no sense, raises a shit load more questions, and just makes the whole thing incredibly stupid. I know that’s basically been this whole movie, but they had to put this fucking capper of all stupid plot twists at the top of this shit pile. The cult leader grabs the coin, and it strips away her skin to reveal that she’s The Guyver.
I could sit here and say all the stupid fucking plot holes this raises (HOW THE FUCK DID SHE GET OUT OF SILENT HILL TO KILL THE PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR? HOW DID SHE HAVE A CHILD IF SHE’S A FUCKING MONSTER THING?) , but I think we’re past the point where asking those questions has any point. The cult members scram because I guess they didn’t know their leader was a monster, and Pyramid Head comes by to fight the monster while Heather, Harry, and Vincent escape.
Spoiler alert: Pyramid Head wins. Who fucking cares. We’re not done. WE’RE NOT FUCKING DONE, SO SIT YOUR ASS DOWN AND FINISH READING THIS!! Apparently the three main characters can now leave Silent Hill at will (SURE!!!! WHY NOT!!!!), but Harry decides to stay and look for his wife who if you recall stayed in Silent Hill to let Heather escape. Sure buddy. Leave your sixteen year old daughter all by herself. WHO NEEDS PARENTS ANYWAY, AM I RIGHT!? Vincent (who’s taking the death of his mother pretty well) and Heather leave Silent Hill without him, and the movie bombards us with two fucking references to end this story with. The movie ends with them hitching a ride with a truck driver (Silent Hill: Origins) and we see a prison transport bus heading in the opposite direction towards Silent Hill (Silent Hill: Downpour).
This movie sucks on so many different levels. First of all, it’s not scary. Every single monster in this movie is shown in explicit detail and they never look all that good, so any sense of horror due to their presence is quickly sapped from the movie. While the movie sometimes gets the sets right, it never find anything interesting to do inside of them other than wander or talk. SOMETIMES the wandering works, but the times it does only a small percentage of all the wandering done in the film. The talking never works because they’re trying so damn hard to explain so much to their audience that we never get to feel that any scene is of significance. All the cool stuff had to have happened off screen if they’re spending this much time talking about it. You never get sucked into the film and can never feel the danger the characters are in because thy keep breaking the flow with exposition. Even if they cut out all the pointless exposition and still were able to get across the info they want to impart to the audience, it’s still a terrible script. NO consistency with the rules (WHO THE FUCK CAN LEAVE SILENT HILL? EVERYONE!? NO ONE!?), too many elements shoved in and brought up at random (MAGIC COIN THINGY!!), and the characters are poorly written with weird motivations and they make unfathomably stupid decisions (SURGERY IN A ROOM FULL OF MONSTERS!!!). The only thing that works consistently is the music which is composed by the game series’ main composer (Akira Yamaoka). Other than that, the movie is fucking awful in almost every conceivable way with only small hints of something that could have worked peeking up infrequently throughout. Unless you’re into watching bad horror movies, run like hell away from this piece of shit and never look back.