Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Silent Hill Scares the New Yorker

I had never even heard of the film Silent Hill, until last night when I was scanning the Apple Trailers site , and this poster caught my eye:

Maybe I’m more skittish than Abbot in Abbot and Costello meet the Mummy, but there is something about this poster that really freaks me out. There’s lack of a mouth on the little girl for starters, and the glassy, piercing eyes that stare at you, no matter which side of the computer screen you move to.

Then I watched the trailer for Silent Hill.

At first the movie seemed to be going in a very familiar direction. A fetching young mother and her creepy raven haired daughter go on a lonely drive and run into a ghostly version of the daughter. Immediately I was reminded of Dark Water, The Ring movies, and the recent remake of The Fog. I think for now the whole ghost doppleganger theme has been a bit exhausted, and it seemed likely that the entire plot (as is often the case these days) was revealed in the first sixty seconds of the trailer. Mother and daughter end up at in a deserted town and get seperated. The Mother discovers there was some terrible tragedy in the town, and one of the victims looked just like her daughter. The ghost of the victim kidnaps the daughter so she can steal her soul to live again and the Mother must try to stop her before its too late.

Sound like a reasonably good guess?

I thought so too, but then the trailer took an interesting turn. For one thing, I think I was taken in by the visuals of the film. I love that moment where we see the Mother wandering through the fog, and she realizes that the snow flurrying down on her from the sky is actually ash. In general the production design seems to have good attention to detail and a penchant for creative landscapes. The director, Christophe Gans, is a French filmmaker who is probably best known for his feature “The Brotherhood of the Wolf”, which had some decent exposure in the U.S. I never saw Brotherhood of the Wolf, but I’d always heard great things about it, I’m curious to see more of Gan’s work.

While the action that takes place in the town of Silent Hill looks creepy enough, it wasn’t until the “Mother” played by Rhada Mitchell, went underground that things started to look really freaky and interesting. According to the mean looking woman in the trailer with the frumpy hair, it would seem that Rhada must literally go to hell itself to retrieve her daughter. Now this is an interesting twist, I thought. Typically the “Moms” in these films don’t leave the grounding normalcy of Planet Earth to go fight the montsers and dead people at the gate of Hades. The scenes in the underground have simple but effectively grim art direction, and that posse of twisted ash covered statuesque corpses that reach out for Rhada made me shiver. (In fact something about the images recalled City of Lost Children in my mind)

The trailer reveals the hellish sub-terranean industrial complex about two thirds through the trailer. I’m wonder how accurately the trailer reflects the proportions of the film itself. I’m hoping they spend a good amount of time with Rhada battling horrible ghouls and such; I’m always game for a good demon.


Blogger DoorFrame said...

Why do horror films get all the really good art direction? Why can't we have this kind of mood and setting without horror? I really don't enjoy horror films, but I love the emphasis on style.

8:09 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

Yeah I hear you, I think other films could benefit from the emphasis on style as well.

8:10 AM  

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