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Vern's Been To SILENT HILL!!

Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...

And so has Quint and, to my great pleasure, so have I. I’m not sure when Quint’s going to write about it, or even if he is, but I’ve got some things to say, and I’ll do my best to get them on paper before I head to bed. For now, though, here’s the one and only Vern, and he and I are really in tune today, since he seems to have reacted much the same way I did:

I'm not gonna lie. If you're reading this, you probaly shouldn't see this movie. I'm betting 95% of you who do are gonna hate it. At the screening I saw it at, people were laughing and loudly criticizing (and for some reason one crazy dude was naming the makes and years of the cars parked on the streets). The people I saw it with, who were more polite, said it was a huge pile of shit.

And in some ways they got a point. The dialogue in this movie is terrible. (Apparently that wasn't Roger Avary's job on PULP FICTION). It's best when it's just about running around facing creepy obstacles. The more it gets into plot and conversations, the more it loses its momentum. It's pretty muddled and confusing and has an awkward explanatory narration near the end and like most of the movies by this director, the frenchman Christophe Gans, it's probaly too long. (By the way, I looked it up and Christophe Gans is NOT Chris Gaines, that famous singer who looked exactly like Garth Brooks but with a soul patch. I know, I thought so too but let's clear up that misconception right here.)

Also there's a cop lady in here that has a pretty ridiculous movie star look that is not believable as a real cop. I don't care if this is based on a video game, that was hard to take.

So you will have a point about that stuff but as far as the rest of the movie, you'll be wrong. You motherfuckers are too literal. This is not a movie for people who think literally.

The movie starts abruptly and weirdly with two parents chasing after their sleepwalking daughter in the middle of the night. She's mumbling weird shit and has somehow walked to the other side of a cliff with a roaring waterfall. It reminds me of when the kid sleepwalks out onto the freeway in WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE (by Wes Craven) and even if it didn't, I would assume it's going to turn out to be a dream. But it doesn't. And you stay off balance for the whole movie.

Turns out the girl is adopted, and she keeps mumbling things in her sleep about a ghost town called Silent Hill, but when she wakes up she doesn't remember saying it. So her mom decides to take her to this place to see if it jogs her memory.

Even before they get to this weird town (which, contrary to normal horror movie convention, doesn't take long at all) the mom is doing weird illogical things like leading a motorcycle cop on a high speed chase and crashing right through the front gate of the closed off town. By this point it has probaly already lost most of the audience but for me it's where I got hooked. As soon as they get to the town the sky is snowing ashes and the little girl runs away, and for most of the movie the mom will be chasing her like Alice chasing Bugs Bunny or the Easter bunny or whoever it was.

Alice in Wonderland is a good comparison because this is not a movie about ordinary human logic. Only dream logic applies. The surreal vibe of SILENT HILL reminded me of a movie I like called INFERNO, by that freaky Italian sicko Dario Argento. Stylistically they're nothing the same, but that's another movie where nobody does what real people would do but they do what you would do if you were in a dream. So for example a gal drops a key into a little puddle and she reaches in and it turns out to be a really deep puddle, so without much hesitation she dives into the puddle and finds herself swimming around in a room completely submerged in water, where she finds a dead body. (Later there is one of the craziest fucking scenes I've ever seen, involving an old man on crutches, a bag of cats, some hungry rats and the sudden appearance of an unhelpful meat vendor.) If you for one second question why the gal would dive in after the key, or why the mom in this movie would pull a note out of the mouth of a mutilated corpse she finds wrapped in barbed wire sitting on a toilet, you should not watch INFERNO and you should not watch SILENT HILL. That's the test.

The first part of the movie is especially great because there's not very much talking and there's a whole lot of atmosphere. With some exceptions, most of the score is very subdued and eerie, and there's some points where it seems to blend into the creepy ambient sounds so you're not even sure if you're hearing music or some weird machine chugging away in the distance. There's a really brilliant sequence where the mom chases the daughter through the town as it turns into Hell and crazy nightmare shit starts to happen. Let's just say that she is mobbed by crying, freaky babies burning from the inside. And that's just for breakfast. There are much weirder things that are gonna happen later.

Even after you hate this movie please at least acknowledge that it is full of amazing visuals and crazy imagination. There are bizarre, fucked up images in this movie like I haven't seen since HELLRAISER, and at times beyond that. I'm pretty sure this is one of the first movies this year to include a scene where two women hide in a room while a guy with a huge metal pyramid on his head stabs through the wall with a six-foot machete and a swarm of giant roaches with almost human faces swarm in through the holes. If not it is still one of the best scenes of that type.

I don't know, maybe it wouldn't seem as insane if I was familiar with the source material. They say this is based on a video game, and that makes sense. Alot of the movie is like running through a big maze (like Pac-Man) and there are also ghosts (like Pac-Man). But there are no barrels that they have to jump over so alot of video gamers might have a problem with that. But I disagree I think barrel jumping would not really fit in to the tone of the movie in my opinion.

I admit, this is sort of one of those movies that as it gets to the last third and tries to both get crazier and tie things together so you might possibly understand what the hell's going on, it starts to lose me. I had that problem with PRINCE OF DARKNESS and LIFEFORCE and IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS and not quite as much with this one. At the end they start talking more, and there are some lines that are some real groaners but when the movie is good it's real fuckin good so I am willing to forgive that. At least it's not dubbed like the Argento movies I was talking about earlier.

Maybe the biggest sin is whenever they cut to the subplot about the husband and a cop trying to find the missing ladies. It's not terrible but there's really no reason to cut away from the crazy shit and bore us with the real world. It takes you out of the story and like I said the movie feels a little long, and probaly wouldn't if you dumped all that useless shit. (I wasn't surprised when somebody told me it was not originally in the movie but was added at the insistence of some studio fool who thought there should be more men in the movie. What, the pyramid head guy isn't a good enough representation of our gender?)

Okay, so this movie is flawed and it will most likely be widely hated, and for a Christophe Gans movie it is surprisingly lacking in Mark Dacascos, the poor man's Brandon Lee. But I for one applaud these weirdos for making a non-jokey, completely bizarre and fucked up nightmare of a movie. You gotta at least admit it's the best video game based movie so far and will probaly continue to be at least until PAC-MAN: RESURRECTION and BURGER TIME: APOCALYPSE come out.

Dear Christophe and Roger, don't give up, there's one or two of us out here on your wavelength. I heard some guy walking out of the theater saying it was "awesome" and I think he may have been talking about the movie and not something else. So that would make at least two people liked this one. Please get a sequel going before some asshole says something. Me and that guy want to see more crazy shit.

thanks boys

your friend,


As always, Vern, you said it better than I ever will. Great stuff.

"Moriarty" out.

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