Game vs Movie | Silent Hill.

Wednesday 8 May 2019

Whenever the topic of Silent Hill comes up I usually get a mixed reaction from people, mostly due to the fact that it was hit and miss when it came to the games. I have always been afraid of Silent Hill, it sounds pathetic but it's one of those games that can easily creep you the hell out so when the movie was released I was sure I would be terrified but luckily that wasn't the case but I did enjoy the movie which is an unpopular opinion. Silent Hill is one of the most popular games I know of and a new game is very sought after from fans, sadly it looks like there will not be a new one not after it was canceled back in 2015, I understand how upsetting this is because Silent Hill is such a great immersive world full of terrifying and awesome monsters and scenes that take place, I want to just talk about why the movie my thoughts on the game vs the movie, I haven't included everything that takes part in the game and movie just the bits I can compare to one another:

The Game

Silent Hill was brought out in 1999 (20 years ago now) I played this game much later than most people I know due to the fact that it was scary, although we have a PS1 my parents were very cautious with what we played and knew something like this would give me nightmares, when I finally got the chance to play I was scared, there is no denying that! The fog in Silent Hill was what made it scariest for me as I was scared of what might jump out on me. The game is about a father (Harry Manson) who is driving his daughter Cheryl to a town for a vacation, on the way they end up seeing a girl in the road making the car swerve to avoid hitting the girl and they end up crashing and when Harry wakes up he discovers Cheryl is missing and makes the choice to go and look for her himself. We play as Harry who is the main protagonist in the game and it's our job to look around the town and find Cheryl but whilst doing so we come into contact with beings that are bound to give his daughter nightmares.

Whilst exploring he meets a number of people who he has to speak to in order to get hints of his daughters whereabouts, Cheryl has a connection to the town as she is connected to the town in a huge way, it's put her in grave danger and only Harry will be the one who can save her from this nightmare. Silent Hill is a place in America which was founded on sacred Indian ground so it wasn't unheard of rituals to take place within this place. The people who settled there were pagans who called themselves The Order, they're a cruel and heartless bunch who I would never want to meet in real life. One main member was Dehlia who was a respected member and had a daughter called Alessa, Alessa had inherited magic which was very powerful and because of this, she is branded a witch. Because The Order worshipped Samael and believed that they will start the second coming by summing Samael in the flesh via birth and Alessa was the chosen to be the Mother of God to bring forth Samael.

Alessa's mother watches her powers grow and it pleases her a lot as she feels she can use them for her own benefit, when the time comes for Alessa to bring forth Samael The Order decide that the best way is through pain, it is said that their deity is born through fire so the members burn Alessa near to the point of death. After this, the ritual is interrupted by a man who tries to rescue her and then her mum rushes her to the hospital where they impregnate her with Samael but he is never born due to the sacrifice being interrupted. Unfortunately, Samael is very much alive inside her and causing her so much distress she decides to split herself into two entities, one was the burned version of herself in immense pain inside the hospital and another is dark and ghostly version of herself who can get around Silent Hill however she pleases. She eventually separates herself into another entity, which is a baby that possesses the last of Alessa's innocents who later becomes Cheryl and this is how Cheryl is connected to Silent Hill.

The reason Harry decides to take Cheryl on vacation there is due to Cheryl's nightmares, you see Harry and his late wife found Cheryl just outside of Silent Hill as a baby 7 years prior to Harry and Cheryl's trip and decided to adopt her, as the years went by she was having nightmares and Harry thought the best thing to do would be to take Cheryl to his late wife and his favourite vacation spot in Silent Hill but this ended up leading to Cheryl dying. I want to stop there with any information about the game as I want to talk about the similarities the movie has and how they completely flipped it from a male protagonist to female which in a way showed the maternal instinct a woman has to help a child even if it's not hers by blood.

The Movie

The Silent Hill movie was released in 2006 and holds up pretty well today when it comes to the graphics, it had a budget of $50 million and managed to gross nearly $100 million, they replicated the surroundings of the game perfectly within the movie and managed to make it feel nearly as eery as the game. They changed a big chunk of the plot of the game to fit with the narrative they thought would work best and Alessa's innocent version of herself was actually named Shannon in the movie, she was given to a nunnery where she was eventually adopted by Rose and Christopher and for years she had been plagued by nightmares and was sleepwalking so her mum took it upon herself to go to Silent Hill to see if it helps Shannon. Rose's husband was completely against this and ended up calling the police on his own wife in order to stop her and find out where in Silent Hill they went which leads to more questions than answers. Shannon and her mother crashed just as they reached Silent Hill much like in the game, a police officer who was suspicious of them have followed them and also crashed but she had disappeared from sight so Rose was all alone trying to find Shannon but later comes finds the police officer.

She comes across the people who live in Silent Hill and they're just as scared as she is and soon she learns of what really happened there. Unlike the game Alessa's mother wasn't the leader of the cult but she did allow the order to burn her daughter but had lived in regret ever since and because of this her mother has to live with that guilt every single day which I'm glad about, how could anyone do that to a child is beyond me. The people living in Silent Hill are trapped in another dimension one that Rose, Shannon, and the police officer found themselves transported to when they crashed and when Christopher goes to find them it looked completely different and just like a ghost town yet they were all there at the same time, I found this element to be clever as it would have been too simple for him to have gone there and found them straight away.

Whilst exploring Silent Hill Rose finds Alessa and she shows Rose the truth of what really happened to her through a flashback, this is where the movie and game kind of merge but not completely, you see the townspeople hated Aleesa with a passion all because she was born a bastard and because of that they made her life hell and because poor Alessa was *TW* raped whilst hiding from the bullies the leader of the cult convinced her mother to purify her. I personally would have preferred if they had stuck to the same storyline as the movie but they seemed to take a darker route for shock value and it's one part of the movie I really didn't like, especially because Alessa was a child. When they perform the ritual to purify her it goes wrong but Alessa is rescued just not in time to stop the horrific burns to her body (horrific I know).

Due to what the townspeople did to her, Alessa grew to be an angry girl who managed to split herself into two more versions of herself, one was a dark Alessa and the other was the last of her innocents in the form of a baby who was taken to the real world when crossed over into the other dimension and later adopted by Rose and Christopher. I found it amazing how Alessa shared all this with Rose, it became clear that both trusted each other and needed one another's help so Rose agreed to let Alessa into her body so she could enter the church and take her revenge whilst Rose was able to enter and finally find Sharon and rescue her.

My Thoughts

I feel a female protagonist worked really well in the movie as it flipped the roles and toyed with our emotions, there are a lot of movies about men rescuing their family so for a woman to be able to do it shows that they're just as strong and as capable of accomplishing this. Although I like that they did this I would have loved to have seen it follow the story of the game, Silent Hill 2 is about a father saving his daughter but unfortunately, I would rather forget that film as it has nothing on the first one even when it comes to the aspect of horror, it was cheesy more than anything and ruined the franchise slightly.

Another thing I didn't really get was why they changed the names, I know they made a different version of the events but they could have used the same names seeing as they based the movie on the game, as much as I love the movie I don't think it will ever beat my love for the game, they both set a completely different tone and come across in different ways, the game is a lot scarier than the movie and each time I play the first game I still get scared whereas I've lost that fear since seeing the movie so many times. The enemies are similar to the game in the movie although they based the Nurses on the ones from the Silent Hill 2 game and used Pyramid head from the second game too, they managed to merge elements from the second game quite well into the movie.

The biggest downfall of the movie for me was that Rose and Shannon escaped and made it home yet was left in another dimension, it felt as if they either died whilst in Silent Hill or they were just trapped there forever, it was never really explained and then the second movie came out where Sharon was freed from that realm whilst her mother was still trapped there, it was weird that the cult was still after them after they all got ripped apart and killed in the church in the first movie but I guess they tried to go off of a lot of the story from the Silent Hill 3 game which didn't work at all, this is why I hope they never make another Silent Hill movie again, just leave things be!

The Silent Hill games are unique from a lot of other games I have played, they're able to execute horror well (bar a few of the games) and I think it's a hard thing to try and replicate in a movie. In games, we the player experience it first hand whereas when it comes to movies we are looking in on what's happening and being spectators so I give kudos to the writers and directors who worked on the Silent Hill movie, they managed to replicate monsters that looked real and put the fear in people (except for the second movie of course).

(Please correct with me anything I got wrong as I haven't played the game in a while)


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