The light is like ash in the mouth of the sinner.
Silent Hill is a triumph of humanist values in the modern age.
Keep in mind that, typically, this kind of japanese crap is so stilted and so obviously a product of that skewed people's views, that I can barely tolerate it. The strange crawling shapes, the unusual kind of bonelessness with which the Japanese ghoul drags itself along is just another kind of clothing for the same old mortal fear, at the end of the day. Certainly, the Japanese philosophical position that no absolutes should exist in the telling of a good story, out of a combination of obsequiousness and communal flexibility, has irritated me to no end in the past. But this... This movie is glorious.
It almost can't stand without realizing certain aspects of the franchise and the world from which Silent Hill comes. For instance, Silent Hill is an open-ended narrative exploring sin (in a kind of pan-human context, since the Japanese conception of such is more similar to the curse of madness which European people's treat as a twisted blessing more often than destructive terrifying force), as it pertains to the private hell a person can put themselves through. It uses hubris, of course, to gain alot of traction, but also renders characters in the sense of innocents making the worst of life's cruelty.
The main characters in Silent Hill games (and thus the film) are video game characters, and while they therefor suffer the need like all main characters to prove their wit and strength to the audience, they are forced to do so in contexts outside the need of a story. In a video game, the behavior of the main character drives the plot forward as a pure act of will. There is no purpose, no plan, or architecture within which fits the set of actions the character chooses; a game character is without personal ethics. Action simply is, and so, when confronted with what is clearly their doom on the other side of some obstacle, they drive through it. Knowing this, enjoying the movie is simply a matter of toying with that idea just enough to localize it to the strictly noninteractive narrative format.
Additionally, there are elements in the Silent Hill games which are serial. The town itself, and the inevitable core of pure terror, for instance, are universal to the games, and it is, itself, at once impersonal, and completely customized; a character unto itself. Because the town is so highly relevant to the particulars of the individual story, the agents of evil operating within the town are essentially neutral. They are generic, and recurrent. The most notable of these characters is 'Pyramid Head'. A demon that is basically a man with a large triangle for a head, which, depending upon the story, can be antagonist, certain death, savior, irrelevant, or a guide.
The particulars of this story (and here I warn you, I get specific) are ones revolving around misplaced faith. It's undeniable power, and it's concomitant risk when misapplied. Now, I, am not a faith-based person. One can operate on adrenaline and uncertainty to a frenzied degree at least as effective as a headfirst plunge into unrelenting rejection of verisimilitude. Fuzzy wuzzy was a bear. If there is more to that story, it cannot possibly matter.
What is so absolutely satisfying about this epic is the logic of punishment meted out. The way in which the mindlessness of any given party is paid for, so that neither the antagonistic monster, nor the deluded and ultimately damned heroine, nor the victim who is lashing out escape a satisfying torment.
There are many little things that go into the nature of the struggle. For one, in Silent Hill games, there is a kind of fascination with certain venues. Hospitals have macabre spins. Subterranean locations like subways lend their claustrophobic qualities to the proceedings. But one of the most interesting elements, has to be the bathroom.
In the bathroom, the character must always face something ultimately benign, but diseasing. In fact, that euphemism is almost perfect. There is a fascination with the setting, which I think is meant to portray our fear of our own fecal matter. A direct allusion to the nature of the Silent Hill itself; as a product of the soul it damns. We excrete. It is an act. An involuntary act wrapped up in decision and management. It cannot simply happen without warning, but we're blind-sided by it. We are disgusted by the subject, yet it consumes a disproportionate amount of our time and effort. We are forever working out our own shit.
The movie goes through alot of other predictable loops. Eyes are used alot. Spooky. The environment offers a contrast between light and dark that is paradoxical. The dark is filled with firelight which brings out precise detail, while the light is subdued by a haze of ash which cuts visibility. If it's not a metaphor for clarity of vision as related to faith, then it's the best unintentional metaphor I could think of. The devil is in the details of course, it's the execution which makes it so satisfying, rather than the high-level method. It's all been done before blah blah, ask me if I care.
And here is why the movie industry still considers itself miles beyond the game industry in terms of narrative. Inside the context of the game, this story is a one-sided 'ride' like experience, where the terrifying apparitions become irrelevant and annoying obstacles, rather than a rich message about the story itself. When transferred to a place where the foolish tasks involved in video-game formulations become statements about the irrationality of the characters themselves, then they have meaning instead of being a barrier.
The linearity of *this* experience has done more to compel me to believe in the value of living in that world than the interactive offerings. Production values are not the issue.
back to the news...