Silent Hill is for yuppies…

I’ve been busy lately with end of semester stuff. Then the last couple days when I’ve had more time to post my internet has been down.

Using my free time, I took one for the team and went to see Silent Hill. Despite the lukewarm reviews and videogame expert Roger Ebert’s review, I have to offer my own thoughts:

The Silent Hill movie sucks. It is, however, a fairly accurate recreation of the experience of videogames. Not that the film is in any way like the game. I wouldn’t know because I’ve not played any of the games. However, while watching the movie I found myself lapsing between being interested and terribly bored. Of course, the parts that I found interesting were when all the weird stuff was going on. The parts that I was bored with were when there was lots of talking. That’s when I realized why the Silent Hill movie is like a videogame. The dull parts where we learn about the stupid story are the cut scenes while the parts where things actually happen are the game itself. Think about it, while people may talk about the weird and confusing stuff in the storyline of the game, the selling point of the game is really the weird creepy stuff, not the storyline. The same thing applies for the movie. I don’t’ really care why this weird shit is going on, I just want to see the weird shit!

The film is like a videogame in another way as well, but not the actual game it was based on. No, the Silent Hill movie is actually Super Smash Brothers. In SUper Smash Brothers, Nintendo takes all their characters and throws them together into a fighting games. In the Silent Hill movie, the creators took a bunch of elements from other horror movies and threw them together. Call it collage, call it bricolage, I call it Super Smash Brothers. Take one part mom and creepy girl from the Ring, one part stereotypical rural people, one part star of Lord of the Rings, one part Wicker Man, one part Children of the Corn and one part the Village. Stir and bake until golden brown.

The most irritating thing for me was, as the title of my post suggests, is that the main couple in the movie are apparently some super rich yuppies complete with all white living room with fancy all white furniture. Great, another film about the plight of the rich and beautiful and how evil and inbred rural people are. Don’t even get me started on the fact that the people that made the movie apparently have never set foot outside of a city in the first place…

Unfortunately, the creepiest part of the film was not the scary monsters, but the weird objectification of the mom. I can’t decide if I’m a prude or a pervert but I found it quite unsettling that this woman who spends the entire film being so motherly (and let’s not forget that the mom goes from lying on the floor shaking and screaming for anyone to help her to a little Linda Hamilton who will stop at nothing to save her child…) and yet we have lots of shots of her leaning over to reveal her cleavage and millions of shots of her running toward the camera without wearing a sports bra.

To wrap up, another review haiku:
I saw Silent Hill
I didn’t like it too much
It was blandtastic.

To wrap up this epic length post, our friend Roger Ebert pontificates about videogames lack of merit one again in his April 30, 2006 answerman column:

Q. I was surprised by “Silent Hill” director Christophe Gans’ incendiary comments about you in this month’s issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, especially considering your positive review of his earlier work, “Brotherhood of the Wolf.” Gans phrased his comments to indicate he wanted you to read them.

David Seelig, Philadelphia

A. In the article, Gans praises video games as a form of art and says “The Legend of Zelda” was “a beautiful, poetic moment for me.” Asked about my opinion that video games are not art, he said “F— him. I will say to this guy that he only has to read the critiques against cinema at the beginning of the 20th century. It was seen as a degenerate version of live stage musicals. And this was a time when visionary directors like Griffith were working. That means that Ebert is wrong. It’s simple. Most people who despise a new medium are simply afraid to die, so they express their arrogance and fear like this. He will realize that he is wrong on his deathbed. Human beings are stupid, and we often become a–holes when we get old. Each time a new medium appears, I feel that it’s important to respect it, even if it appears primitive or naive at first, simply because some people are finding value in it. If you have one guy in the world who thinks that ‘Silent Hill’ or ‘Zelda’ is a beautiful, poetic work, then that game means something.”

Ebert again. I am willing to agree that a video game could also be a serious work of art. It would become so by avoiding most of the things that make it a game, such as scoring, pointing and shooting, winning and losing, shallow characterizations, and action that is valued above motivation and ethical considerations. Oddly enough, when video games evolve far enough in that direction, they will not only be an art form, they will be the cinema.

A tip on the early cinema: No wonder it was seen as “a degenerate version of live stage musicals,” since the talkies hadn’t been invented yet, and there is nothing more degenerate than a musical without sound.

Your comments on age and the fear of death are thought-provoking. You know, Christophe, the older I get, the more prudent I become in how I spend my time. As David Bordwell has pointed out, it can take at least 100 hours to complete a video game. Do you really feel you have mastered the mature arts to such an extent that you have that kind of time to burn on a medium you think is primitive and naive?

On my deathbed, I doubt that I will spend any time realizing that I was wrong about video games. Your theory reminds me of my friend Gene Siskel, who observed that nobody on his deathbed ever thinks: “I’m glad I always flew tourist.”

So the moral of the story is be an elitist asshole. Well, at least not everyone in the mainstream media is a hypocrite… So his justification for not giving videogames a fair chance is that he’s old??? That’s just ponderous man,

2 Comments Showing 50 most recent
  1. Jennifer

    Glad you commented on the film! I left the theatre wondering what Bryan would say… I totally agree with you on the enjoyment of weirdness – it was the best part. Dialogue was awful, and the acting was similarly atrocious. So, visuals made up for it. And it did seem like camera angles and movement of people was lifted straight from the game. I also thought that the cuts between scenes and plot development were perhaps lifted, but as I haven’t played the game I couldn’t be sure.

  2. Paul Herzberg

    Doesn’t Ebert have a list of a hundred or so movies you have to watch before he thinks you can talk intelligently about film?

    Oh here we go:

    “[M]ovies you just kind of figure everybody ought to have seen in order to have any sort of informed discussion about movies”

    OK, so as soon as Ebert has played Pong, Space Invaders, Zork, Manic Miner,[fill in your own 95 here], Psychonauts. Then maybe he can have an informed discussion about computer games. Until then perhaps, and surely this is implicit in his list, he should shut the fuck up about them.