The video game franchise Silent Hill is finally ready for a real return, with a new playset to be announced on Wednesday. This latest revival of the series also means it’s the perfect time to revisit the secretly awesome original silent Hill Movie. While horror seekers and video game fans fretted in 2006 that the film wasn’t faithful to the source material, a decade of (mostly) bad Silent Hill entries proved just how good the film really was.
The film follows Rose Da Silva (Radha Mitchell) and her husband Christopher (Sean Bean) as they worry about their daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) and her constant sleepwalking and grumbling about a place called Silent Hill. Finally, desperate for a solution, Rose takes Sharon and searches Silent Hill for answers. The pair are quickly trapped in the ghost town – along with a police officer named Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden) who tries to stop them from crossing the city limits and gets sucked in herself. Sharon then disappears, sending the two women searching for the girl through Silent Hill, where they encounter some of the video game series’ most famous monsters.
While the movie’s monsters and gore offer a chilling cinematic journey into the games most famous ghost town, the best part is the silent Hill Film is the metaphor at its core. Director Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf) and screenwriter Roger Avary (pulp fiction) invent a story that explores how men and women can see the world differently and how threats against women can go unnoticed by the men around them.
Shortly after Rose and Sharon leave, Christopher follows them, realizing they may be heading to Silent Hill. When he arrives, he finds only an empty city. For him, Silent Hill is quiet and deserted, but it still feels haunted, while for the women, it’s a monster-filled nightmare. The same streets he sees nothing, they find threats around every corner and down every alley, in their own horrific dimension he cannot access. While they remain in mortal danger, something he feels but cannot even see or interact with, he is powerless to help.
To pull this off, the film often twists its horror aesthetic by a dime. It deftly morphs from a monster action film where the characters are desperately fleeing a new horror (say, a herd of undead nurses) to a slow-burning, fear-infused drama as Christopher realizes he may not be able to help can his wife even do it, or how Rose fears she may have lost her daughter to the horrors of Silent Hill.
None of this is subtle metaphor, but in a movie that features monsters like Pyramid Head, it probably shouldn’t be. Nonetheless, it’s an effective film – and it was still largely lost on audiences when the film came out in 2006, an era marked by post-Seen-Sequel “Torture Porn”. Combine that with the fact that the film took a few creative liberties at a time when the game series was still in its prime, and it’s no surprise that this remains one of the hidden gems of video game film.
silent Hill is available for streaming AMC+ via Prime Video and FuboTV. It is also available for digital rental or purchase through Amazon and Apple.