Zombos Says: Good
Dear Mr. Ebert:
I am aghast that you, as
mentioned in your review for Silent Hill, cannot describe the plot
for this movie. I, as you, have not played the video game, but even so I think
the plot woefully obvious. Allow me to illustrate it, with as much brevity as
possible, so you can better appreciate the nuances of this gripping horror story.
But before I begin, I was
wondering what you use for a light source when you take notes during the movie?
I've tried various book-lights and pen-lights, but they're either too bright,
annoying those sitting around me, or too awkward to position, or uncomfortable
to hold for long periods of time. I was lucky with Silent Hill as there
was an Exit sign which cast just enough reddish light for me to see what I was
writing. Of course, I had to sit on the floor next to it, but it wasn't too
uncomfortable; except for the occasional person stepping over me to go to the
bathroom or concession stand. It's a good thing I don't review Disney movies as
I'd have had the little monsters and their rude parents incessantly running
back and forth, trampling me.
Getting back to Silent
Hill, the plot is a simple one, often repeated in horror and science
fiction movies. It even reminded me of the Star Trek episode, And
the Children Shall Lead, where Gorgon, an evil alien who appears to children
as a friendly angel (played by real-life attorney Melvin Belli), takes
advantage of their naivety to further his evil plans. He uses them as a conduit
for his nasty powers. Now instead of an evil alien, in Silent Hill we
have a kid, Alessa, who's being used by a malevolent demon to exact malicious
mischief and revenge on the titular (I always love using that word: it sounds
so naughty) townspeople that did her wrong.
Now—oh, wait a minute—is it a
demon that is using the girl as a conduit or is it actually the dark half of
the girl that's taking revenge on the townsfolk? The convoluted explanation
toward the last quarter of the movie, oddly done in an inappropriate grainy
faux-home-movie-styled flashback, describes how badly the poor kid was
mistreated, and how she eventually split into a dark half who curses and
destroys the town and everyone in it, and a good half the dark half sends away,
only to call it back after nine years.
But then why bother to send the
good half away, only to have it return after nine years?
I missed something. I better
Dear Mr. Ebert,
I'm surprised that you, as
mentioned in your review for Silent Hill, can't describe the plot
for this move. I, as you, have not played the video game, but even so, I think
the plot fairly obvious. Allow me to illustrate, with as much brevity as
possible, so you can better appreciate the nuances of this atmospheric horror
Alessa, born out of wedlock, is
tormented by her classmates, victimized by the school janitor, and cooked like
a hot dog by a wacky religious cult. The poor kid, amazingly, survives all this
rude treatment and, naturally, develops an evil personification that can reach
out from her badly scarred and bed-ridden body to maliciously destroy her
tormentors. No wonder there.
Then again, you could look at it
this way: a demon from hell takes advantage of the poor girl’s revengeful,
hate-filled state of mind to kill everybody in town and lock their souls into a
very imaginatively depicted hell-like limbo filled with endless horrific
After wreaking chaos and horror
on the townsfolk, she realizes she's been acting rather badly and decides to
create a good version of herself—pre-nastiness and all that, which she then
sends away to live with
total strangers until precisely nine years pass. Demon Alessa—or just a
hell-spawned demon along for the ride—then summons pre-nastiness Alessa (now
Sharon) back to town to…to...what?
And what’s that weird, confusing
backstory about a witch burned by townsfolk and the town being on fire for
years and years?
Oh, bugger! I thought I had it
this time. I have to start over.
Dear Mr. Ebert,
I'm not surprised that you can't
describe the plot for Silent Hill. It can be confusing to those not
all that familiar with horror movies. Allow me to explain, with as much brevity
as possible, so you can better appreciate the nuances of this visually stunning
and creepy movie.
But first, I must give kudos to
the art direction.
It's a wonderful creaturefest of
makeup, CGI-enhanced sets and coloration, and icky-monster costuming that's
quite a treat to watch. The creatures are nightmarish, in that nifty
damned-to-hell kind of way, and the sounds and music when Alessa's mom goes
deeper into that cursed town—especially when the siren blares a warning that
the town is going ‘into the darkness’—is goosebumps inducing, evoking quite a
horrific mood; and those embers glowing on the damned creatures’ bodies, and
all that falling ash and pall over the town—again, Dante himself couldn't have
done any better.
The script is another matter
The dialog, for instance, is
atrocious. Many of the lines are eye-rollingly bad. The acting also needed
better acting, especially during the climactic Barkeresque Hellraiser-styled
confrontation in the church between Alessa’s mom and those evil cult members.
does manage to walk through a congregation of crazed, kid-roasting individuals
with amazing ease, doesn't she?
And the verbal showdown between
them is so contextually dry; I wish I had Visine to squirt in my eyes each time
they rolled around those groaners.
While I'm at it, what's with the
black, skin-tight, leather uniform on the female motorcycle cop: I mean really, could you get it any tighter?
How DOES she get on the motorcycle dressed in those tight pants? All she needs
to complete her ludicrous ensemble is a pair of stiletto heels. Her weak acting
during her own barbecue scene in the church is also very disappointing,
especially when she’s the one being barbecued. A little more Ouch! or Ooh!
would have provided more drama.
But before I go off on a
tangent, let me explain the plot.
Alessa, a poor kid born out of
wed-lock and who winds up roasted like a turkey by an evil religious cult while
HER mom puts up little resistance, takes revenge on the townspeople of Silent
Though I'm not sure if this
occurred before the fires broke out in the mines or afterwards. I'm also not
sure how the witch burning, thirty years beforehand, fits into the events with
Alessa. There seem to be a few storylines going on here and little explanation
to tie them together.
Anyway, from her hospital bed,
the badly scarred and immobile Alessa, either through sheer malevolent will
power, or by the assistance of a hellish demon (maybe the witch’s familiar?)
destroys the town and its citizens, forcing their spirits to ‘live’ in a
nightmare world that puts Dante’s
Inferno to shame. They must endure not only the hellish Limbo
they've been caught in, but also the Darkness that brings Pyramid Head (you
need to have played the video game, but a guy with a pyramid on his head) and
his agonies (give or take a few like in the video game) to torture them if
they're unlucky enough to be caught outside their only sanctuary, the church.
Alessa, for some reason, sends
off a good version of herself as a baby, now named Sharon, and then summons
Sharon back to Silent Hill after nine
years. Since Sharon sleepwalks and blurts out "Silent Hill" in her
sleep a lot, her mom, casting caution to the wind, takes her to Silent Hill.
exactly sure why since Sharon’s scared sh+tless of the place. Perhaps her mom
is just taking that confronting your fears thing a little too seriously?
Yes, Silent Hill! The one with
all the well-known, evilly-cursed stuff attached to it. A place so notorious,
Sharon’s father reads about it on the web at www.ghosttowns.com. This is the
ABANDONED place that has had toxic fires burning beneath it for years, so much
so that ash continually falls from the sky, and deadly fumes reek forth so
badly not even a Glade Plug-in Air Freshener could cover it up.
So her mom takes her there, AT
NIGHT, hoping to find out why her daughter keeps sleepwalking and saying
“Silent Hill” a lot and seems so frightened of the damned place.
Along the way they're almost
stopped by a dominatrix-looking motorcycle cop who dresses in impossibly tight
leather motorcycle garb (minus stiletto heels, though), but her mom is
determined to bring Sharon (really Alessa) to that deserted,
fires-still-burning, town (that nobody else wants to go near)—in the middle of
the night no less—so she puts the pedal to the metal, promptly crashing her car
in the process.
Mom wakes up, finds her daughter
missing, and heads into town on foot. The motorcycle cop follows them, promptly
crashes her motorcycle,
and heads into town on foot, too.
Now, Mr. Ebert, here is where
the subtlety begins.
You see, Sharon (really Alessa),
her mom, and the motorcycle cop are actually dead, but they don't realize it.
They died in their respective vehicular crashes. This is why they can be
affected by the creatures and hellish darkness of Silent Hill while her
husband, and the others searching for her, walk through the town unaffected and
Now Alessa, as Sharon, has her
mom and the cop go through quite a few trials and tribulations to find her so
she can use them to get into the church to send those evil cult members to
Hell—well, more Hell that is, seeing as they're all ready knee deep in it. Much
gore ensues as Alessa gloats and tears them apart in a scene of ripping
butchery that Pinhead would be proud of. Sharon as Alessa--or Alessa as
Sharon--and mom then walk back to the car, buckle themselves in for safety—this
time—and head home.
Of course, there's the confusing
sequelization-antic ending (my term for forcing a sequel: clever, huh?), where
the husband is home as they return
home, but he can’t see them and they can’t see him. The scene shifts between
husband in his nice sunlit home and them in their bleak, ominous-looking home.
Sharon-now-Alessa, or the demon posing as Sharon-now-Alessa, gives us that
sinister, look, so common in horror movies these days, to tip us off that it isn’t
over until the franchise says it’s over.
them being dead, though, how, exactly, does dead Alessa benefit from taking
over now dead Sharon’s body?
And they (the script writers, I
mean) still haven't explained why the witch was burned or why the fires started
in the mines in the first place.
Oh bloody hell. I thought I
finally had it right this time. Crap.
Dear Mr. Ebert,
Never mind. You were right as
PS. We miss you.