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Silent Hill: Movie vs. Games

By Shamus
on Monday Apr 24, 2006
Filed under:


As I mentioned in the previous post, there are several nods to the games in the Silent Hill movie. Here are as many as I can remember:

Note: Mild spoilers, mostly of things you see, not of what happens. There isn’t anything in here that isn’t revealed in the trailer.

  • The big one is that the town transforms at various times. In the games there are 3 versions of the town. First is “Foggy” Silent Hill, which is just a big empty town with little else wrong with it. Then “alternate” Silent Hill, where things look far older / more rusty / full of decay, and there are monsters about. And finally there is “hellish” Silent Hill, where the place is converted into a place of horrors, spikes, freakish images, deadly creatures, and vile evil. Yet even the “hellish” Silent Hill retains the basic layout of the real thing. This worked a little different in the movie, but the same idea is still there.
  • In SH1, as Harry drives into town he spots a motorcycle cop who has taken a spill by the side of the road. Then a figure appears in front of the car. He swerves to miss, and crashes. When he wakes up, his daughter is gone and he must search the town for her. Once he enters town he is trapped there by a massive (and seemingly bottomless) abyss that cut through the road.

    A very similar setup is used in the movie.

  • In both the games and the movie, the town is always out of date. The cars and buildings seem to have a late 60’s / early 70’s vibe.
  • Almost every game has your character reaching into a hole or some other nasty spot. In SH2, James had to stick his arm into a hole in the wall up to his shoulder to reach an important item. Later he had to reach into a very nasty toilet. In SH3, the main character starts to reach into a toilet and then chickens out, in a humorous nod back to SH2. In SH4, your character has to crawl into a number of very spooky holes, the worst of which is a very nasty narrow hole in the wall of his own bathroom. Note that most of these involve creepy stuff happening in bathrooms.

    In the movie, the main character must reach into the mouth of a corpse that has been contorted and bound in barbed wire, and then suspended over a toilet.

  • In SH2, James enters one apartment building and then reaches an adjacent building through a door that opens into a narrow alley, where he must jump across. Since he’s not on the ground floor, this means jumping over a short but deep gap between the two buildings. The movie has the same situation and uses almost exactly the same camera shot.
  • SH2 had Pyramid Head, the very spooky, invincible, cruel, horrible, awful, bloody, bad, mean guy with the giant sword. He’s in the movie.
  • Silent Hill is always some sort of town of corruption, although the reason for the corruption shifts a bit from game to game. At the root of it is always some nasty cult, who either worship evil or bring about evil through overzealous pursuit of good, such as witch-burning. The movie follows this pattern.
  • The finding of maps and building plans is always a big deal in the game. The movie has a couple of moments where the main character must consult or memorize flooorplans and maps.

    Like maps, finding flashlights is a big deal in the game. In a video game, this makes for spooky lighting. In a movie, they have lots of different and more advanced lighting tricks available, but yet they still feature a few “you found the flashlight!” moments. There is even a “you found the keys!” moment. These are subtle and I don’t think they stand out to people who didn’t play the game.

  • Instead of following movie tradition of big claws and teeth, the games usually have creatures that are disturbing because they look like horribly mutilated humans. They are human enough for us to recognize them as being “people”, but are inhuman in construction in such as way as to unsettle the viewer. In SH2 there were creatures that looked like people, except their arms were underneath the skin of their torsos, as if they were wearing a straightjacket made of their own flesh. Their heads were also encased in flesh, meaning they had no face, no eyes, no mouth. Now, a human with no arms and no mouth isn’t very dangerous, combat-wise. The fear of these things comes not from what they might do to you, but from the fact that they exist at all.

    The movie has several such creatures.

    Another thing that makes the monsters frightening is that while they are human-shaped, their movements are off. Sometimes they convulse or thrash about. Sometimes they move in ways that don’t look right, such as moving in a jerky fashon as if being illuminated by a strobe light, even when the light source is steady. The movie has a moment like this.

  • The movie’s ending credits use the same music as the intro for SH3.
  • There are several key locations in the games: Tuluca Lake, the hotel, the school, the hospital, and the church. All of these are shown or mentioned in the movie.
  • The games have radios that give off static when monsters or general danger is near. The movie does this with cellphones.

Comments (9)

  1. As with the Doom movie, it seems as if this movie was made primarily with fans of the games in mind. Anyone else who wants to come see it is welcome, but they don’t seem to be the primary target audience.

  2. Dan says:

    I have to disagree. Doom was not made to satisfy the video game fans. They just put a seen at the end that was in a first person view, and said there that should make them happy. The movie as a whole was the absolute dreggs. fan or not

  3. Shamus says:

    The problem with Doom and Silent Hill is that they had opposite problems. For Doom, they needed to come up with an interesting story to go with the monsters and goo. For Silent Hill, they needed to take the usual Silent Hill style story and trim that sucker down, or at least simplify it.

    Doom committed the sin of changing the premise, which alientated fans. SH was very, very careful to meet the fan’s expectations for visuals and style, but at the expense of telling a coherant story to non-fans.

    Silent Hill stories are like Stephen King novels: They SEEM like they would make good movies, but unless you plan to make a gigantic 3-picture epic, you are going to need to throw away more than you keep. SH2 in particular would make a fantastic book, and an awful movie.

    Wow. Now that I think of it: Playing SH is more like reading a book than watching a movie. SH2 and SH4 in particular are very introspective. The main character is on a journey not to defeat monsters, but to unravel a very personal mystery.

  4. TheWatcher says:

    This is actually the best video game to movie I have seen yet. And it is the best horror movie I’ve seen for a while. They did a great job and if there is a sequel in the works I can’t wait to see it.

  5. elda says:

    i liked that movie. i never bothered to learn the cop’s name so i call her “she-man” the people who i was watching it with all thought she was a guy until i pointed out otherwise.

  6. M says:

    The sole problem I have with the Silent Hill movie has got to be the change they made to Cybil Bennett. I don’t know how to hide spoilers, so I’ll just say that the character herself was still good…I just strongly dislike the change to her ‘story’.

  7. Drew says:

    They did good with Pyramid Head.

  8. matt says:

    they did awful with pyramid head. there was no purpose in him being in a movie based on the first game.

  9. Tim says:

    Horrible adaption once again-worse than Resident Evil.I don’t know why people keep wanting to make their own story out of Silent Hill and Resident Evil. They are already amazing enough to be produced as movies-let the story be. Silent Hill, while being a decent movie-mainly because of the protagonists acting(forget her name)-was SHIT compared to the storyline. First of all, Silent Hill is centered around LAKE TOLUCA.The events in the first Silent Hill took place in 1983. Alyssa was burned by her mother Dahlia and Kaufman who were members of the order! They created a second child(Cheryl-not Sharon) because the power they could draw from her was weak-and they needed another half. When she taken to Silent Hill on vacation(she didn’t go there because of nightmares)-the two halves reunited and Alyssa grew powerful, powerful enough to create a nightmare world from her mind. The nightmare scenes in SH movie were ridiculous too. Even outside, blackness covers the sun-the only light seen is that off a flashlight. I’ll give good credit to the midwich otherworld scenes. Second of all, the order at that time was weak. There were few members of it, not a whole gas-mask crew. The biggest problem I have with SH movie is the landscape. What is this Brookhaven Hospital? It’s all way in South Vale-on the other side of the lake. The inside of the Hospital is shrouded in darkness-there aren’t any windows. It’s an abandoned mental hospital. That is one of the creepiest levels in SH2-SH3 and they made it look stupid-not scary at all, furthermore, it’s not even close to Paleville. And what’s with this Pyramid Head? Jesus Christ, this isn’t a cheezy Silent Hill comic, he has nothing to do with Cheryl or Alessa or the order for that matter. He is a manifestation of James guilt for killing his wife in Silent Hill 2-that’s why he looks like an executioner. Did these people even attempt to understand the plot of Silent Hill before they made a movie out of it. What about the ash? There is no ash, it’s snow. Play the first Silent Hill. Kaufman sais “It’s snowing, this time of year!?”. I think Konami should make a CG film of their own, just like Resident Evil, and salvage their own brilliant creation. It’s already been shit on by Climax games and Christopher Gans. Don’t even get me started on the sequel because that was the stupidest piece of shit I’ve ever seen.

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