Old MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com


Silent Hill
Dir. Christopher Gans. 2006. R. 120mins. Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Alice Krige.
Say this for Silent Hill: the movie looks just like the game it’s based on. The same yellow fogs, the same faceless monsters lumbering along dark hallways, the same dead-eyed characters who blunder into peril, searching alone for loved ones. You know those dead video game eyes: that one-percent-less-than-lifelike facial expression displayed by even the most ingeniously rendered video game characters. The kind of eyes you’ll get while trying to get through two hours of this movie.
Slow and scare-free, Silent Hill nonetheless has a gloomy beauty—if you like looking at photography books of ruined industrial towns, peeling paint and rusty stairwells. There’s not much story here: For reasons never made clear, the heroine, Rose (Radha Mitchell) drives her weird little girl Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) who is adopted, from Ohio to the town of Silent Hill, West Virginia.
Warned off by Rose’s estranged husband (he’s googled SILENT HILL: the entries all came up HAUNTED) and local police, mother and daughter soon run afoul of Silent Hill’s strange powers. It’s located atop a coal mine which frequently explodes, and despite a steady precipitation of coal dust and ash, no one ever coughs or wheezes, not even the crazed religious cult that chases Rose as she chases her runaway daughter. Far too late in the story, Rose observes that in Silent Hill, “something terrible happened.”
That’s the funniest line in an awfully grim film.
One interesting note on it, though:
Screenwriter Roger Avary got the idea for the movie’s version of Silent Hill from the coal town turned ghost town Centralia, Pennsylvania. Beneath it, a coal fire has been burning since 1963.
The former town of Centralia has been the subject of magazine stories in Harper’s (February 2004) and Esquire (August 1999)
Sony’s Silent Hill website has more on the movie, Avary and the town.
Ugo has extensive coverage here.
Sony’s SILENT HILL site
They also link to a history of Centralia

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One Response to “Beyond SILENT HILL”

  1. deanna shears says:

    is silent hill a real place?

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon