Saturday, June 24, 2006

Since yesterday we've accumulated a mass of exam scripts to mark. But it's the last weekend of the June hols so we're having 1 last fling before getting stuck back into our marking loads again.

Went with June to watch Silent Hill. Silent Hill 3 -- the game -- creeped me out but the movie came nowhere close. What a disappointment. The movie tried its best with the use of darkness and fog; deep, steep stairwells; and amazing environmental transformation effects. The music was atmospheric, as were the sound effects; all adding up to a creepy ghost town with some pretty disturbed residents, human and otherwise.

A movie is no game, though. Firstly, we know very well that the protagonist isn't going to die halfway through the movie 'cos that'll be the end of the narrative, right there. Um... you know what I mean, right? In the game, at least there is a sense of danger that your avatar could perish in spectacular fashion, and even though that eventuality simply prompts a reload, you still have to think about possible solutions to get past the hazard to continue the story.

Secondly, in the game, you control the pacing of your avatar. You can take your time to observe the surroundings and take in all the ghastly details, building up a sense of dread about opening the next door or descending a dreary staircase. In the movie you're just rushed through the process, following along, having no say in the decision-making process. It's the difference between a carnival ghost train ride and personally exploring the house with a reputation for being haunted in your neighbourhood.

Thirdly, the game makes you feel almost completely alone and friendless whereas the movie crams in too many other characters who seem to want to help. Not that everyone can be trusted, of course, but generally the movie loses the sense of isolation that might have been another fear to exploit.

The monsters in the movie are also quite disappointing. Well, they weren't all that scary in the game either. They were just obstacles to get through to the next objective, but still... The zombie nurses in the game put my nerves on edge, mostly because of their disjointed, misshapen bodies and their disturbing, shuffling gait. But the nurses in the movie have to be played by real people, and they got what looked like a company of modern dance performers to imitate the movement of their game counterparts. Unfortunately, I saw the dancers, not the movement, so another highly anticipated thrill lost.

As in many other horror stories, it's the people that are the real monsters. Fanatic, extreme, self-righteous, conformist, sheep-like human beings that do really nasty things to other people because of their differences. In that respect, at least, the movie got it right.

Some bits also probably censored for the NC-16 rating. The censors with their sharp scissors are the scariest of all.

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