Silent Hill: Collector's Edition [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Shout! Factory
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (15th January 2020).
The Film

Cinema history has proven time and again that adapting video games for the big screen rarely works. It’s nearly impossible to distill hours and hours of immersive gameplay into a satisfying narrative that hits every note for fans while also still being a serviceable feature for the masses. Christophe Gans came awfully close with his interpretation of “Silent Hill” (2006), based on the atmospheric and creepy 1999 video game released by Konami. Sticking closely to the aesthetic featured in the game, Gans gave his film that same choking smoky environment and – more importantly – featured only music from the games, as composed by Akira Yamaoka and Jeff Danna. Watching “Silent Hill” could never be in the same league as playing the game but Gans gets viewers awfully close. If it wasn’t for lots of dodgy CGI and a bloated story this could’ve been a contemporary horror classic – by studio film standards – but ultimately what winds up on screen makes for great entertainment.

Rose (Radha Mitchell) and Christopher’s (Sean Bean) adopted daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) has been suffering from bouts of sleepwalking and nightmares, featuring a place called “Silent Hill”. Despite her husband’s protests, Rose takes Sharon to Silent Hill hoping to get answers – but as soon as the two cross the bridge into town Rose crashes the car and Sharon goes missing. A cop, Cybil (Laurie Holden), follows them into Silent Hill after seeing Sharon have an outburst at a gas station earlier, but she finds herself trapped in the same strange world as Rose. At “day” the town appears abandoned and decrepit, but at “night”, when the alarm sounds, darkness descends upon the town and horrible creatures come out of the woodwork, all with the intent to kill.

Once Rose does finally come across a pocket of people it turns out they’re all part of a religious cult called the Brethren, led by Christabella (Alice Krige). An exposition dump explains how Sharon is actually the reincarnation of Alessa, daughter of Dahlia (Deborah Kara Unger), who gave her daughter up for sacrifice years ago. This is where the film turns, and the loss of discovery and wonder brought about by Silent Hill and its eccentricities is overshadowed by a beleaguered plot involving zealots and finger pointing and too much talking. Where’s that big Pyramid Head guy to rip the skin off a couple more followers?

The best moments of playing “Silent Hill”, particularly “Silent Hill 2”were, for me, wandering around the town, cloaked in thick fog, destroyed and decayed buildings all around, and suddenly a weird noise would beckon followed not long after by some deformed ghoul hellbent on spilling blood. It might as well have been called “Atmosphere: The Game” because players spent all their time absolutely steeped in it. How do you translate that to a feature film? You really can’t. Gans does a fine job setting up his story quickly and then immediately getting Rose and Sharon to Silent Hill. Once there, he lets the film slip into “gameplay mode” by having Rose just wander around and discover for a long while before the whole Brethren story comes along to suffocate everything. But up to that giant exposition dump the film does well to build moments of tension.

Much of that tension is, of course, thanks to the hellish creations that populate the landscape of Silent Hill. Players of the game will recognize many a melted face and recall how difficult these deformities are to kill. Everything done with practical FX here looks incredible, from the faceless nurses to the massive Pyramid Head. Adding that sense of tangibility makes these foes seem like they’re in the same space as our protagonists… which is mostly what’s missing from all of the CGI-heavy scenes. Darkness and grime do what they can to hide the “seams” but this is 2006-era CGI in a studio horror film with a modest budget. Translation: it never had a chance.

Video

Scream Factory has provided any information on the film’s 2.35:1 1080p 24/fps image and I suspect that’s because this is the same master Sony used for their own release in 2006. Luckily, Sony is one of the best studios when it comes to home video transfers and even if this picture was taken from a 13-year-old master it still looks fantastic. Dan Laustsen’s photography does well in capturing the essence of the game on film, offering up bleak locales and bold visual differences between “normal” Silent Hill and after the alarm sounds, as well as a third look for scenes with Sean Bean in the real world. Detail is always in focus, colors are richly saturated, and film grain is healthy throughout.

Audio

Everything about the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound track is an audible treat. Yamaoka and Danna’s score sounds eerie and ethereal in lossless audio, with unsettling cues and serenely spooky music emanating from all corners of the room. Once that blaring alarm sounds, though, expect to hear plenty of raucous, with thuds and booms that will have the subwoofer delivering thick, rumbling bass. Dialogue factors nicely into the mix, always clear and never lost in the melee. Subtitles are available in English.

Extras

DISC ONE:

The first disc features an audio commentary track with director of photography Dan Laustsen.

The film’s theatrical trailer (1080p) runs for 2 minutes and 22 seconds.

DISC TWO:

A lengthy “Interview with Christophe Gans” (1080p) featurette is broken up into three parts:

- “The Origin of Silence” runs for 26 minutes and 1 second.
- “Adapting a True Work of Art” runs for 21 minutes and 21 seconds.
- “Delivering a Nightmare” runs for 24 minutes and 50 seconds.

“A Tale of Two Jodelles – Interview with Actress Jodelle Ferlandfeaturette (1080p) runs for 26 minutes and 3 seconds.

“Dance of the Pyramid – Interview with Actor Roberto Campanellafeaturette (1080p) runs for 36 minutes and 34 seconds.

“Interview with Make-Up Effects Artist Paul Jonesfeaturette (1080p) is divided into two parts:

- “Monster Man” runs for 30 minutes and 44 seconds.
- “Silent Hill” runs for 25 minutes and 34 seconds.

“Path of Darkness – The Making of Silent Hill” (1080p) is a multi-part documentary:

- “Origins” runs for 8 minutes and 53 seconds.
- “Casting” runs for 10 minutes and 15 seconds.
- “Set Design” runs for 10 minutes and 25 seconds.
- “Stars and Stunts” runs for 7 minutes and 51 seconds.
- “Creatures Unleashed” runs for 12 minutes and 38 seconds.
- “Creature Choreography” runs for 11 minutes and 32 seconds.

“On Set” vintage featurette (SD) runs for 14 minutes and 29 seconds.

“Around the Film” vintage featurette (SD) runs for 4 minutes and 39 seconds.

Photo gallery (SD) runs for 7 minutes and 1 second.

Poster gallery (SD) runs for 3 minutes and 21 seconds.

Packaging

The two-disc set comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keep case. The cover art is reversible. A slip-cover featuring new artwork is available on first pressings.

Overall

Swathed in atmospheric tension and quite good – up to a point – “Silent Hill” is the best horror video game adaptation to date, which is kinda damning with faint praise but the bar has been set (and left) low. Scream Factory doesn’t offer much in terms of an A/V upgrade, but the wealth of bonus content makes this a tempting package for fans who want to know more about the film and its origins.

The Film: B- Video: A- Audio: A Extras: A+ Overall: B

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.