Video games have had a major impact on popular culture within the last 30 years, paving the way for countless film adaptations. These sort of films usually leave the audience (fans of the gaming franchise) to carry the weight of disappointment. In the case of Konami’s Silent Hill, the game-to-film adaptation thankfully has not succumbed to the same fate.
Silent Hill (the film) is far from perfect. Yet the film’s director, Christophe Gans, shares his passion for the survival-horror series by recreating an experience that nearly mimics the tone and atmosphere of the original games; and as a result has created a beautiful, stylistic film in the similar vein of its source material. On this day, April 21st, Silent Hill was released theatrically in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom twelve years ago, in 2006.
Prior to the film’s development, French film director Christophe Gans had been in pursuit of Konami to obtain film rights to Silent Hill. After nearly five years of attempts, Gans decided to submit a video interview directly to Konami, describing in detail his plans for the Silent Hill film adaptation. In an interview with About, Gans describes his experience in reaching out to Konami at great lengths stating, “what was very long is to reach the people of Konami and convince them that we’ll make something very true to the game because the team of Silent Hill is a team of three or four guys and they are very, very conscious about what they achieve. And they didn’t want anybody to screw their work. So it was like a long work just to convince them to accept that we’d do the film very carefully.” Impressed with Gans’s dedication in delivering a faithful, and careful, adaptation to the Silent Hill universe, Konami granted him the film rights.
Under careful consideration in providing a well written script, Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction/Beowulf) was brought on board as co-writer for the film. In describing his efforts in delivering the spirit of the game onto the script, Avary states, “They [writers Gans and Boukhrief] wanted me to come up with completely fresh material and somehow stay faithful to the game, which is not as easy as it sounds. If you’re remaining precisely faithful to moments in the game and coming up with new themes, it’s difficult to do.” Being a longtime fan of the Silent Hill series, Avary was able to find inspiration in drafting a script devoted to bringing the feel and atmosphere of the game onto the big screen. In elaborating on the history of Silent Hill for the film’s script, Avary drew inspiration from his father’s stories as a young child about a mining town in Pennsylvania called Centralia. The mining town succumbed to coal fires, which continue to burn today after 60 years, leaving Centralia uninhabitable due to toxic gases released from underground. The fate of Centralia was used as a means to fuel and expand on the mythology of Silent Hill.
Centralia, Pennsylvania has been used as a means of inspiration for other stories prior to the Silent Hill film. In 1995, Dean Koontz released Strange Highways; a collection of short stories and a novel in a single print. In the novel, also titled Strange Highways, Koontz discusses the mine fire in Centralia, Pennsylvania as inspiration. The town has also influenced writer David Wellington in his 2008 vampire novel, Vampire Zero, where the final act of the novel takes place. The history of Centralia has also been featured in countless documentaries recounting the mining fires and its effects on the state of the town today.
In maintaining the spirit of Silent Hill, film composer Jeff Danna arranged the musical score for the film by remixing (or recreating) Akira Yamaoka’s original compositions taken from Silent Hill 1-4. Yamaoka, whose musical compositions are considered a staple to the Silent Hill series, served as the film’s executive producer as well as supervising musical arrangements.
Under the umbrella of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Silent Hill was distributed by TriStar Pictures and released on April 21st, 2006. The film’s final script borrowed elements stemming from several games in the series, such as Silent Hill, Silent Hill 3 and Silent Hill Homecoming; with heavier influences taken primarily from the original Silent Hill video game storyline.
As the game’s description of the plot recounts, “After a car accident on the outskirts of the resort town of Silent Hill, you regain consciousness to find that your [adopted] daughter, who was previously asleep in the backseat, has left–or has been taken–from the scene. To find her, you must go into town and unlock the secrets that linger seven years after a tragic fire scarred the town.”
Similarly, the film’s premise follows, “a desperate mother who takes her adopted daughter, Sharon, to the town of Silent Hill in an attempt to cure her of her ailment. After a violent car crash, Sharon disappears and Rose begins her desperate search to get her back. She descends into a fog of smoldering ash and into the center of the twisted reality of a town’s terrible secret.”
Silent Hill’s opening weekend grossed $20.1 million in the domestic US market, ranking at the #1 spot. The film’s theatrical run came to a close in July of 2006 with a worldwide gross of $97.6 million against a budget of $50 million. According to Box Office Mojo, Silent Hill ranks at #13 as the highest grossing video game adaptation films. The financial success of Silent Hill eventually led to a sequel in 2012 titled, Silent Hill: Revelation.
Silent Hill stars Radha Mitchell (The Crazies), Sean Bean (Game of Thrones), Laurie Holden (The Walking Dead), Deborah Kara Unger (White Noise), Kim Coates (Sons of Anarchy) and Jodelle Ferland (Cabin In The Woods). Ferland’s character in Cabin In The Woods is none other than the zombie daughter of the Buckner family, Anna Patience Buckner.
To celebrate Silent Hill’s release on this day, you can stream online on Netflix, or perhaps dust off the old console and play the original Silent Hill. Either way, you’re in for an enjoyable ride. Are you a fan of the film or the games in the Silent Hill series? Let us know and tell us what you love about them. If you haven’t seen the Silent Hill film, or played the game, you can enjoy the trailers below.
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