I’m currently struggling my way through NanoWriMo (Novel writing month) and pretty much getting nowhere; so I took a break from writing about a crime fighting lesbian Nun death squad, and went to see ‘Silent Hill Revelations’. I had meant to go see this on its Halloween release date but they kindly held a special showing of ‘The Shining’ (1980) on that day; so it was obvious what I was going to end up doing instead.
The first Silent Hill movie is quite old now; it was released in 2006; before the games started to suck (although shattered memories is excellent) and it holds an important place in my heart, it’s not a brilliant film; it’s a pretty average modern horror, but as a video game movie it’s one of the better efforts. It contains some moments of genuine creeps and has some good set pieces particularly the bits they borrow from the games. But it means more to me than your average movie because I’ve attached sentiment to it. I’m a huge fan of the games, and at the time of its release I was with the girl I tend to describe as being the love of my life, or at least so far (I’m planning on buying a full size arcade machine, that will take her place). And even though she hated horror films we went to see this, as she was interested in getting involved in things that I like. I remember being a little embarrassed when the priestess gets her cooch crammed full of barb wire but overall, we had a good time. Sadly I haven’t seen ‘Silent Hill’ in a few years now as the relationship ended, and the film is strangely painful to watch; but these are the things of life, and a little pain never did any one any harm. I think Chuck Palahnuik said it best.
‘People don’t want their lives fixed. Nobody wants their problems solved. Their dramas. Their distractions. Their stories resolved. Their messes cleaned up. Because what would they have left? Just the big scary unknown’
So I think I’ll hold on to the feeling for a little longer.
‘Silent Hill Revelations’ takes its cue from ‘Silent Hill 3’, which is the true sequel to the first Silent Hill game, ‘Silent Hill 2’ was a spin off title. And as the first Silent Hill film was based on the first game it‘s a logical choice to skip the second game as a source of inspiration.
At the start of ‘Silent Hill Revelations’ we find Christopher and Sharon from the first film living life on the run, under the names of Harry and Heather (the original names from the game) because of an intruder that Harry killed many years earlier, who is later revealed to be a member of the order; the religious sect from Silent Hill who are trying to find Sharon so they can sacrifice her to stop Alessa and release their town from the darkness.
Sharon is fast approaching her seventeenth birthday and is just starting a new school where she meets Vincent; who is also there on his first day and dresses like an extra from a Twilight or maybe he’s trying to audition for the part of Ted Logan in the remake of ‘Bill and teds excellent adventure’ (1989) either way he looks like an anachronistic douche bag, he immediately tries to hit on Sharon, who rebukes his efforts, maybe he’d have more luck if he wasn’t wearing that stupid fucking waist coat white t-shirt combo, hell if I know ‘I don’t understand dames’. While in school Sharon starts to have strange visions; journeying into the dark world, even though she is not in Silent Hill. Sharon soon realises that someone is following her so she goes to the shopping mall to wait for instructions from Harry, while she is there the dark world starts to bleed into reality again and the person following her reveals himself to be a detective that was hired by the Order to find her, he warns her of their nefarious plans and then is dispatched by a reject Cenobite. Sharon goes home to find out that her father Harry has been kidnapped and written on the wall in blood is an order for her to go to Silent Hill. So she sets off with Vincent in tow to rescue her old man.
There is more to it than that, but if I was to go through it in to much detail then this review would be a couple of thousand words long, because ‘Silent Hill Revelations’ is just full of random shit that seem to take place with no rhyme or reason. Usually a movie will have a build up to events instead ‘Silent Hill Revelations’ just springs it on you. Some of it is explained away by Sharon reading a note book written by her father, so when she meets Dahlia and uses her name we don’t ask how did you know who she is? we just accept that she probably read about her in the book. But all through this film we are presented with nonsensical situations based solely on the fact that they would make good set pieces. Personally I think it’s because Michael J Basset studied at the Resident evil school of film making; where the most important thing is keeping the story moving through any means, showing as much cool shit as is possible; and not worrying about explaining any of it away.
Trying to rationalise the actions and events in the film is impossible, I’ll list some of the bizarre leaps the film makes with little or no explanation. Vincent turns out to be an agent from Silent Hill but ends up helping Sharon. Sharon has to meet Vincent’s grandfather; upon meeting him he promptly turns into a demon and attacks her. And my favourite; Vincent is taken to Brookhaven asylum; tied to a gurney and wheeled into a room full of the staby nurses from the first film, by two members of the order. These guys happily just walk into this room full of homicidal ugly birds with rocking bods as if it’s nothing, and then get slaughtered for their stupidity. All so that we can have a cool escape scene. These two members of the order have lived in the darkness for how long? They know these nurses are dangerous, the lack of faces and prominent presence of sharp implements should at least tell them that, if not previous experiences. It’s a good scene but fucking stupid. And it’s just an example of the total lack of coherence and reality to this film. I mean seriously, the Order’s head quarters are hidden in an abandoned amusement park. Did they go to the Scooby Doo school of evil villainy or something WTF.
The other problem with this movie is that it’s a horror film but there is no real feeling of threat. I never once feared for Sharon. It’s true that she see’s some horrible things in her journey through Silent Hill, but even when she runs into the Pyramid head he ignores her. It makes it feel like a fair ground ride. It’s almost as if you are watching someone walk through a spook house. You see some scary disturbing imagery but ultimately it’s just a ride and you know there is no real danger.
The six years we waited for this film wasn’t worth it. I’m underwhelmed and unimpressed. If you want to watch a similarly structured movie watch the Resident Evil films, they are just as dumb but a lot more fun than this.
I can’t help but feel a little guilty as I’ve spent the best part of a month bad mouthing this film, even though I hadn’t watched it. My initial dislike for Sinister went so far that when I invited my friends to come see it I simply asked if they ‘wanted to see a shit film’. How glad am I that I was proven wrong. My erroneous initial impressions of Sinister were born from a trailer that succeeded in making it look like every other waste of time modern horror film. I’m looking at you House at the end of the street (2012), which incidentally was the first place I ever saw the sinister trailer. In my defence I still think the trailer for this film sucks, I can’t see the bit with the kid coming out of the box without thinking of the zombies from deadly premonition. Which wasn’t a quirky, unique, and interesting game, it was just crap.
Even when this scene plays out in the actual film I don’t like it, it’s something I’m forever going to hold the trailer responsible for. I must have seen it about 20 times since they started airing it. This is why I tend to get to the cinema in time to miss them; I’ve been misled by the bastards to many times.
Sinister centers on Ellison Oswalt; a washed up true crime writer, who moves his wife and two children into the house of a murdered family, the only survivor seeming to be their missing daughter. While moving in he finds a box containing an 8mm projector and a set of home movies all with seemingly innocuous names. After watching them he discovers that they are the recordings of several other murders, all perpetrated by the same killer. As he digs into these crimes things start to get strange, his son sleepwalks, the projector turns itself on at night, and strange noises can be heard in the attic. These events don’t just leap out at you they are slowly built up. This slow burn technique makes Sinister one of the most suspenseful films I have seen in a long time, the only other film I can liken it to is the excellent Woman in Black (2012) which also used the same techniques. There are some truly shocking moments in Sinister, but it never stoops so low as to rely on blood and guts to do so. Anyone can show a teen being hacked apart with a chainsaw, nod and a wink to Rob Zombie. But it takes a true master to realise that depriving your audience of the gory details is by and far a worse thing to do to our delicate nerves.
Sinisters writer C Robert Cargill has said that he came up with the idea for this movie when he had a nightmare after watching The Ring (2002) and to be honest I spotted this influence a mile off. Which is interesting because I can also see The Ring’s influence in Woman in Black (2012) the only other good horror film released this year (Cabin in the woods is not a horror film). I think it’s the detective element of these three movies that makes them so successful, because we are tied to a protagonist who knows as little as we do. Making this a true journey into horror, and Ethan Hawke plays the part perfectly, he does an excellent job as a man both scared but desperate to get claw some sort of fame back after the two flops he has just produced, ignoring the dangers that most normal people would have walked away from a long time a go. I can’t recommend this film to true horror fans enough, because this is a Horror film; not a slasher, psycho, or gore movie but a horror film in the truest sense; it tries but unnerve you with atmosphere, not with the threat of violence. Yes violence is the pay off because ultimately in a horror film death is the final threat, but this film is about the journey not the destination, unlike so many cheap gore movies fooling themselves into believing they are horror films.
If your unable to get to the cinema to see Sinister or just want to wait for the DVD release then in the meantime I don’t think you could go to wrong if you got yourself a copy of Woman in Black, or if you want a classic Suspiria (1977) by Dario Argento a true master in his day.
Holy Shit what the fucking hell is this turgid pile of crap, can Hollywood not make a good horror film anymore? When I first heard the name House at the end of the street I thought this was a remake of some long lost classic that had somehow escaped my attention. After all we had Last house on the left (1972), House by the Cemetery (1981), House on the edge of the park (1980), and various others, all of them on the UK’s video nasties list. But no, all my research turned up was the fact that this film was rated a PG-13 in America …..Fuck!!! that means it’s a 12a even though for some unexplained reason it managed to earn a 15 certificate in the UK, but I told myself that it would be ok; after all Woman in Black (2012) was a 12a and that nearly made me mess myself. Sadly all my fears were confirmed when I sat down to watch this abomination, this film sucks. The best I can do to describe The house at the end of the street is to liken it to an aborted foetus; spawned from a coupling between Dawson’s creek and a shitty horror film. I‘m wondering if this films writing process consisted of anything more than a couple of guys sitting down with their big book of Clichés jumping between the chapters marked teen drama and horror.
I mean this film has it all, a strained mother daughter relationship with no father on the scene. The young girl with the deep artistic soul, we know this because she plays acoustic guitar and sings the sort of soulless dross that passes for being deep and meaningful if you’re a douchebag. kinda like Joss stone only worse. Then we have the young damaged outcast living in the house his parents were murdered in. He writes don’t you know but only at dawn; because of some bullshit about that’s when he feels like he can get all the new ideas that will be born that day before anyone else…FUCK! is this fucking Dawsons creek. Oh yeah sorry you also have the popular Jock/fuck knuckle character the guy that makes the sensitive guys life hell, and tries to force himself on our heroine. The worst thing about this is the bastard doesn’t even die, normally this sort of cock is prime psycho fodder but no he gets off lightly with a permanent limp.
This film doesn’t even know what type of horror film it wants to be. It uses supernatural horror tropes only to switch to a psycho locked in the basement storyline, and then it ends up becoming a cross between Silence of the Lambs and Psycho, only shit. But that doesn’t matter because by the time we got to the last twist me and my friends had been asking each other how much longer until this ends for about 40 minuets, we basically couldn’t give a damn about what was happening we’d had enough; watching this shit was proving to be some sort of endurance sport. The only enjoyable thing about this film was that we all sat in the cinema and ripped on it, only it sort of deflates your insults when ten minuets later your shitty comment is proved to be accurate. That’s how cliché ridden this film is. As for it being classed a horror film, it’s the worst laziest form of horror film, where all the scares come from sudden jump moments and loud noises on the soundtrack, horror films need to be creepy, House at the end of the street is just tiresome and boring.
Seriously Fuck this film you want to watch a good modern horror with a low age rating then watch the excellent Woman in black, even Harry Potter couldn’t ruin it. If You want to watch a film with an address in the name then watch Lucio Fulci’s House by the Cemetery, a lot of the others on the video nasty list are a bit rapey so this ones the safe bet, although it does have some of the worst dubbing in the history of cinema, in the form of the young child Bob, but I think that’s part of its charm.
Time for a classic movie as I haven’t really seen anything new this week. Although I’m hoping to remedy that with Dredd which I have to admit I’m slightly wetting myself to see. But that’s for another day.
So I finally sat through the whole of Scanners (1981); I usually don’t make it past the famous exploding head scene. This is not because the film didn’t capture my imagination. Ever since I saw Akira (1988) back in 1995 I’ve loved the idea of killer Psychics, it’s just that I’ve only ever seen this on TV, and it tends to get shown at stupid o clock. I’m getting old so my vitality starts to waiver after about fifteen minuets leaving me to wake up just as the credits start rolling. So I got myself a DVD copy instead.
Scanners is from those halcyon days when Cronenberg was at the height of his powers, when he was obsessed with disease, deformity, mans relation to machinery and the power of the mind. To distil it’s story to it’s most basic form Scanners is just a thriller. It’s about a secret underground terrorist group of psychics led by a man called Darryl Revok and a man called Cameron Vale who is sent to hunt them down, at the behest of a large American multi-national.
But it’s the content that makes this a classic Cronenberg film. All the classic Cronenbergisms are there; medical experiments, mixing the mind with machinery, the evolution of the human race through technology be it for good or bad, and extreme bodily destruction. Forget the exploding head wait until you see the final confrontation between Vale and Revok.
Talking of Revok, I loved the fact that we get to see a Younger Revok dealing with his powers by drilling a hole in his forehead; to unleash his third eye, it’s a nice touch of body modification. A simpler version of James Woods gun hand or chest Vagina in Videodrome (1983). And watching Scanners I feel like I can see Cronenbergs ideas growing, especially in regards to the relation of man and machine, in this film we see Vale speak to a computer with his mind, Videodrome was about our relation and interaction with TV and then later we had EXistenZ (1999) which was a similar tale but based around video games.
I concentrate on these elements because I do feel that we don’t really get to know the characters overly well, this film feels like the introduction to something. The start of a larger Franchise (I know there are sequels but Cronenberg didn’t have any input so I’ll ignore them) but that’s ok because too much exposition would have ruined the fast pace of the film. It really does move along quite nicely and never lags. We go from one spectacle to another, probably making this one of Cronenbergs most mainstream films, especially as he has left off the sex and analogies of sexually transmitted diseases in this film.
If you want to watch Cronenberg at his more risqué then give Videodrome or my personal favourite of his Shivers a go. But in all honesty if you’re looking for a good fantasy thriller, you can’t go wrong with Scanners. Also it’s a must for gorehounds and further proof that you can’t beat physical effects.