Silent Hill: Cinematic Subplot

By Shamus Posted Friday Oct 6, 2006

Filed under: Movies 2 comments

Yesterday I talked about how useless the subplot was in the Silent Hill movie. Actually, even though the scenes that take place in the “real world” have little value for the purposes of the plot, those scenes had a great deal of cinematic value.

The trick with the town of Silent Hill is how it shifts or changes, sometimes becoming spooky, sometimes becoming hellish. The main character is caught in “spooky” Silent Hill. It is decayed and foggy, and ash falls from the sky like snow. This is really unnerving at first, but eventually we get used to it. Then the view switches back to the real world and suddenly we can see sunlight and color again. A weight lifts and you can almost taste the fresh air. These cuts back to the real world help the spooky Silent Hill to hold its potency.

Having said that, it’s obviously decadent to burn up 40 minutes of screen time in order to provide a nice visual contrast. If it were up to me, I would keep the footage from where Christopher is exploring the town, and toss the rest of that story from the point where he leaves Silent Hill and goes digging for clues elsewhere. Having watched this movie a couple of times at home, this is what I ended up doing. It was very nice of them to set up the chapter break on the DVD to make it easy to jump to the Silent Hill stuff without needing to search.

Silent Hill – The Movie

At one point the nature of the town is clearly shown to the viewer. (Much more clearly than was ever possible in the game, I might add.) Rose is running around in the school, which is now a hellish nightmare of caged horrors. Despite this, the place retains the layout of the normal school. There are still rooms and hallways and lockers. At the same moment, her husband Christopher is in the real world, in the same school, standing in the same hallway. The movie does a cut from one to the other without moving. It just shifts from one version of the scene to the other, which lets the audience (particularly people who never played the game) understand what is going on.

Silent Hill – The Movie

I find this fascinating. This isn’t the same room with a new paint job. This looks like the same place, only constructed out of different materials. The check out the metal plate floor.

Just for fun, I made a composite image of the two:

Silent Hill – The Movie

The contrast does make the evil Silent Hill more awful. It works really well, it it’s something that isn’t possible in a single-viewpoint game.


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2 thoughts on “Silent Hill: Cinematic Subplot

  1. Bogan the Mighty says:

    Half of the subplot really was useless, since they ended up just telling you what happened to the town twice because of it. When the husband was in the town though really was an important part. Not only was it for the cinematics, but it made sure you knew just where the main character was at, and that it wasn’t that Silent Hill was all spooky and hellish for everyone who went there.

  2. Sarah says:

    As someone who has never played the Silent Hill games (unfortunately), I actually found this ‘boring sub-plot’ very useful at times.
    I had no idea what the story in the Silent Hill games was about or anything like that, I was going into the movie blind.
    One of the major things that this guy does is find information about what happened to the town before it became.. well.. possessed. Yes, it’s true that it was already explained a fair bit in the ‘otherworld’ version of the town – but when he investigated it gave just that bit more information that really lets you KNOW what happened.
    Without that sub-plot, there are elements in the film I probably wouldn’t have known much about and it wouldn’t have had nearly as much impact for me.

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