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Silent Hill – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Scream Factory not only has some fresh new studio catalog titles to tackle with Warner Bros recently, they’ve also been getting some output from Sony. As such, their new release of the 2006 film Silent Hill marks the distributor’s first foray into the video game film genre. The critically reviled box office disappointment did have its fans, making it a little bit of a cult film for which to maybe take another look at and a good candidate for a Scream Factory release. It also is a film whose director is quite popular with some of his other efforts (Brotherhood of the Wolf and his Lea Seydoux starring Beauty and the Beast). Scream Factory is giving this one a pretty solid treatment in the form of a 2-disc set with bonus features provided by Reverend Entertainment. The release will be their to cool down and spook you following your 4th of July firework excitement when it arrives on July 9th. You an pre-order the Blu-ray from Shout! Factory’s website or by using the Amazon link at the end of the review.

Film 

Based on the best-selling horror/action video game, SILENT HILL stars Radha Mitchell as Rose, 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 a desperate search to get her back. She descends into the center of the twisted reality of a town’s terrible secret. Pursued by grotesquely deformed creatures and townspeople stuck in permanent purgatory, Rose begins to uncover the truth behind the apocalyptic disaster that burned the town 30 years earlier.

Silent Hill is a really interesting piece of the video game film genre. There are plenty of problems to point out with it, and you’re likely right, but its also a very fascinating movie. Whereas something like Resident Evil might be dumb fun or a Lara Croft: Tomb Raider gets a casting or some kind of setup correct, Silent Hill manages to both respect its source and the horror genre. And unlike so many of its video game brethren, it never, ever feels safe.

Having seen other films from Christophe Gans, he’s no journeyman or guy that just checks the boxes. Gans is a very visual filmmaker with personality. I played the first Silent Hill game back when it released many moons ago, and he really delivers the spectacle and feel of that game right from the jump. His foggy streets with drizzles of ashes raining down is quite beautiful. Many of the sequences, interiors and monsters on display truly fit the bill. Its haunting, intense and pretty avante garde for something like this. For many general film goer, it may have been too avante garde for their tastes.

While I’m spewing out some big praise, I mainly wanted to point out what it does better than many of the other video games movies of that time and honestly, still to this day. Unfortunately it is a hair confusing and the film runs extremely overlong at over 2 hours. I don’t know that I’d want a faster, tighter film, I like the pace of its sequences. It just feels like a long lap to get to the finish line. I think its worth a bit of a revisit and certainly has a lot of personality and plenty to offer in terms of core horror thrills.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Silent Hill returns to Blu-ray with what is more likely a transfer that is upgraded merely by better encoding than the previous time around. It features a crisp, detailed look that seems to the handle the foggy nature of the setting quite well. A new transfer possibly could make for a better venture, but I’m sure if they could have done one, Scream Factory would have. Sony is possibly saving that effort for their own 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release if this film were to ever get the chance. The film isn’t a looker in the traditional sense, but a sense of style does come through decently here.

Depth:  This film has its moments with some deep establishing shots and wide camera movements. Most of the time though its pretty solid with smooth movements and no distortion issues with rapid action scenes.

Black Levels: Blacks hold up pretty well to close to natural levels and really add a character of their own with lighting, shadow and sharpening definition. Details on darker surfaces, fabrics and the like stay pretty strong and no crushing was witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Silent Hill isn’t the look when it comes to color. This is a very faded and the colors almost feel zapped as the image focuses on whites, blacks and grays to tell the frame’s story. There are moments where ambery, fiery oranges do pop right off the screen to an impressive degree. But, for the most part, this has that vivid, sharp feel that a Saw movie would.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are cold and consistent from start to finish of the film. The movie’s introductory scenes are a bit more flush. Facial features like scuffs, dirt, dried blood, freckles and more come through quite crisply and clearly.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Silent Hill likely comes from the same LPCM mix from the 2006 release, but now has converted to a DTS-HD MA surround. Its a pretty impressive 5.1 track overall. Its loud, full of charge and has many surprises and tricks up its sleeve to drive the thrills of this movie. This track really is a character and an asset in watching it on its own. You’ll feel many of the scenes with its expertly set low frequency portions.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: There is an excellent contribution to the mix by the subwoofer. Loud big trucks, pounding on doors, crashing destruction, musical stings, gunfire and more really rock the room.

Surround Sound Presentation: The mix here is quite playful and has a lot of fun terrorizing you in different ways for a full 360 degree experience around the room. From little whispers in the back corner of the room to a sweeping motion that goes across the room or back to front, Silent Hill is a hell of a time.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras 

Silent Hill – Collector’s Edition is a 2-disc set that features reversible cover artwork displaying original poster artwork. Disc 1 contains the film and Disc 2 contains all bonus material sans the commentary and trailer.

Disc 1

Audio Commentary

  • With Cinematographer Dan Laustsen

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:27) 

Disc 2

Interview With Director Christophe Gans – Gans sits for an extensive interview regarding the film with every little bit of personal touch and attempt to adapt the game into a film that really its feel. Gans does not speak English, so all three interviews here are subtitled. They get A LOT out of him here and its quite intriguing to hear him talk about the film. I gained a little more appreciation for it after sitting watching.

  • The Origin Of Silence (HD, 26:01) 
  • Adapting A True Work Of Art (HD, 21:21)
  • Delivering A Nightmare (HD, 24:50)

A Tale Of Two Jodelles (HD, 26:03) – Interview with actress Jodelle Ferland. This one is a pretty in-depth interview as well as she gives a well rounded take on her career with deep dives into her work on commercials.  She’s a joy to listen to and really comes off as just an all out good person.

Dance Of The Pyramid (HD, 36:36) – Interview with actor Roberto Campanella. He discusses how Gans had influenced his work on the film draws a circle around his career and dance and how he incorporated it into his work.

Interview With Makeup-Effects Artist Paul Jones – Jones discusses his history of coming into making effects and his original horror crafts and details the work he did on the film going scene to scene and monster to monster.

  • Monster Man (HD, 30:44) 
  • Silent Hill (HD, 25:34)

Paths Of Darkness: The Making Of Silent Hill – The almost hour-long documentary that was featured on the original DVD release for the film but was not included with the Blu-ray edition back in 2006.

  • Origins (SD, 8:53)
  • Casting (SD, 10:15)
  • Set Design (SD, 10:25)
  • Stars And Stunts (SD, 7:51)
  • Creatures Unleashed (SD, 12:38)
  • Creature Choreography (SD, 11:37)

On Set Vintage Featurette (SD, 14:29) – Its a bit of an EPK featuring interviews, that wasn’t previously included with any of the US releases at least.

Around The Film Vintage Featurette (SD, 4:39) – Another little EPK that talks about the town and settings as well as character motivations in the film.

Photo Gallery (HD, 7:01)

Poster Gallery (HD, 3:21)

Summary 

In the spectrum of video game movies, I don’t know if it ranks among the best, but it surely is one that ranks among the most interesting and most well made. Scream Factory’s new Collector’s Edition updates the codec for you video and provides a better avenue for your audio mix. The extras are incredibly lengthy, taking up their own disc with about 3 hours worth of just new interview material alone. Silent Hill comes stacked and comes as the one fans will want to have on their shelf.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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