• Silent Hill (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: July 9th, 2019.
    Director: Christophe Gans
    Cast: Radha Mitchell, Laurie Holden, Sean Bean, Deborah Kara Unger, Kim Coates
    Year: 2006
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    Silent Hill – Movie Review:

    Directed by Christopher Gans and released in 2006, Silent Hill is an interesting, if not always successful, attempt to bring Konami’s 1999 video game hit of the same name to the silver screen. Co-written by Gans, Roger Avary and Nicolas Boukhrief, the story revolves around Rose Da Silva (Radha Mitchell) who takes her young daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) to the town of Silent Hill. Sharon has been having nightmares all too frequently and she’s been mentioning the town by name in her nightmares and when she sleepwalks. Rose’s husband, Christopher (Sean Bean), objects to this but Rose takes off, daughter in tow, late at night before he can realize they’re gone.

    Along the way, Rose learns that the town that once was is now a ghost town, thanks to a fire that started in the coal mine beneath its streets. Not to be deterred, she nevertheless makes her way to Silent Hill, a female cop named Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden) following right along. One car accident later, and Sharon is missing, Rose and Cybil are looking for her and Christopher is on his way to see if he can’t help get this all sorted out before its too late. Of course, there are more than a few strange twists along the way as Sharon’s identity connects to the town’s history and the presence of a cult of religious zealots makes their presence known.

    Silent Hill is a flawed film. Some of the dialogue feels wooden and awkward, the movie goes on about half an hour longer than it needs to and the whole thing goes off the rails in the last twenty-minutes or so. That said, the film is loaded with atmosphere and despite the presence of some dated looking CGI effects, it’s often times a gorgeous looking picture. With almost the entirety of the film shrouded in fog, the ghost town setting is genuinely eerie and just flat out cool to look at. Once things take a more supernatural bent, the story gets weirder and the town’s inhabitants follow suit. This gives Gans and company plenty of room to experiment with interesting character design, most of which is directly influenced by the video game series on which the picture is based.

    The performances are decent. Australian born Radha Mitchell does a fine job in the lead. She plays the concerned parent well but also has a strength and determination to her that is admirable. While Rose’s decision to bring her daughter to such a dangerous location isn’t going to win her ‘parent of the year,’ we do at least understand she has the best of intentions at heart. Mitchell makes this work. Laurie Holden, now best known for her lengthy stint on AMC’s The Walking Dead, is a strong choice to play the motorcycle cop who gets wound up in this. She comes across as tough and strong, out to do the right thing. Holden does a great job here, she really works in the part. Sean Bean isn’t given as much to do in the picture but he’s solid in his role, while young Jodelle Ferland does fine with the material she’s given.

    Had there been some more judicious editing and a bit more polish given to the script, Silent Hill likely would have been a better, stronger film but as it stands it has its moments. The movie is better before it changes from ‘mom looking for kid in spooky town’ to ‘supernatural cult insanity’ but if nothing else, it’s a fun ride even when it’s stumbles.

    Silent Hill – Blu-ray Review:

    Silent Hill arrives on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer on a 50GB disc framed at 2.35.1 widescreen. While not touted as a new transfer anywhere on the packaging or press materials, this is a solid looking picture by anyone’s standards. The movie is frequently shrouded in fog and a lot of it takes place in low light conditions, but the disc is well encoded and handles this without any noticeable compression problems. Detail is pretty solid, colors look very good (comparatively speaking – this isn’t meant to be a very colorful looking movie in the first place) and black levels are nice and deep as well.

    English language DTS-HD Master Audio tracks are provided in 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo with removable subtitles provided in English only. The 5.1 mix here is really strong. There’s plenty of very distinct channel separation present throughout, a very strong low end with plenty of rumble and clean, clear dialogue. There’s a lot of impressive surround activity used throughout the movie and it comes through wonderfully here. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion to note, everything is clean and properly balanced.

    Aside from a theatrical trailer, the only extra on the first disc is a new audio commentary with cinematographer Dan Laustsen. It’s an interesting talk that goes a long way to explaining what went into creating the film’s unique visual style, what it was like on set, working with Gans, his thoughts on the production as a whole and lots more.

    The second disc, however, is fairly stacked with supplements old and new. Starting with the new, we get an interview with director Christophe Gans conducted in three parts: The Origin Of Silence, Adapting A True Work Of Art and Delivering A Nightmare. Combined, these three segments run roughly seventy-two-minutes in length, so there’s a lot of ground covered. Gans speaks about how he came on board to direct the film, what he tried to bring to the picture, the challenges involved in adapting the game and source material, the look of the film and lots, lots more. In A Tale Of Two Jodelles we get a twenty-six-minute interview with actress Jodelle Ferland wherein she speaks about how she got her start in the industry, her early days doing commercials, breaking into film, getting cast in Silent Hill, her experiences on set and her thoughts on the project as a whole. Dance Of The Pyramid interviews actor Roberto Campanella for thirty-seven-minutes about his part in the picture, his thoughts on Gans as a director and what it was like trying to work with his vision, incorporating his dance training into his performance and other related bits and pieces. The last new segment is an interview with makeup-effects artist Paul Jones that is broken down into two parts: the thirty-one-minute Monster Man and the twenty-six-minute Silent Hill. The first chunk covers his background and how he got his start in the business while the second half narrows its focus and covers his work on the feature. All of this new material is really well done and quite interesting.

    As far as the archival material goes, most of it stems back to the Sony DVD release starting with Path Of Darkness: The Making Of Silent Hill, which is an hour long piece broken up into six parts: Origins, Casting, Set Design, Stars And Stunts, Creatures Unleashed and Creature Choreography. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a pretty comprehensive look behind the scenes of the movie and some of the footage included here is quite illuminating. There’s also a fourteen-minute On Set Vintage Featurette (that wasn’t on the old DVD) that is basically an EPK style piece but that still includes some interesting behind the scenes footage and some cast and crew sound bites. Not essential, but interesting enough and Shout! Factory are right to have included it here. There’s another five-minute archival piece here that’s called Around The Film that takes a look at the town and locations where the movie was made.

    Shout Factory also includes two still galleries on this second disc. Both discs in the set included animated menus and chapter selection is provided for the main feature.

    Additionally, worth mentioning is the fact that Scream Factory provides some nice reversible cover art for this release (with their newly created artwork on one side and the atmospheric original one sheet art on the reverse) as well as a slipcover for the first pressing.

    Silent Hill – The Final Word:

    Silent Hill doesn’t end nearly as well as it begins, but it’s still a pretty strong effort from Gans and company even if it does go off the rails in the second half. It’s stylish, atmospheric and on occasion quite tense. Shout! Factory has done a very nice job bringing this to Blu-ray for their collector’s edition release, presenting the film in great shape, with excellent surround sound and with a load of extras old and new. Fans of the film should consider this one worth the double dip.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Silent Hill Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Scott's Avatar
      Scott -
      It's been a while since I've seen it but at the time I really enjoyed this movie. Has there been a better videogame adaptation before or since?