A recent debate, and by debate, I mean whiny, circular argument, when it comes to movies is the issue of swapping an established character’s gender without any real reason to. Is it ever a good idea? Well, in short, no. Except for the rare case where the character has no set gender – this sometimes happens in video games where the characters are androgynous or animals – it is never a good idea. Why? Because it’s almost always a lazy, cynical attempt to be “feminist”. Case in point, the first Silent Hill film.
I actually feel confident recommending the first Silent Hill movie to people. In my opinion, it’s the only good movie based off of a video game, and in its own right is a stylish, well-made horror movie. However, it takes some egregious liberties with the source material that make parts of frustrating if you’re familiar with the series. Probably the most obvious is swapping the protagonist Harry Mason’s gender, turning him into the female lead, Rose DaSilva.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think the actress does a really good job. I have no issue with her or even the character. What I do take issue with is the reason for the change, which is pretty damn offensive. Why they changed Harry to Rose is that they didn’t think a father would go to such odds to save his adopted daughter, that her mother would be more likely to. Like, that is seriously their reasoning. Just… why!? Have they never met human beings? Did they not learn anything from this series at all? The whole point of Silent Hill, when it’s boiled down, was the insane limits Harry would go to to get his daughter back.
The first Silent Hill already had an almost all-female cast, with the exceptions of Harry and Dr. Kaufmann, who wasn’t included in the film. If they wanted to make a film with a strong female lead, there was already three to choose from in Cybil, Lisa, or even Alessa Gillespie, though she’s more of an anti-villain. They tried to shove in Rose DaSilva, and another Harry Mason-esque character in her husband, rather than just have Harry be the main character. Oh, and they also added this weird witch-burning woman named Christabella as one of the main antagonists. That character wasn’t a terrible add-in, but nonetheless gives me traumatic flashbacks to the Silent Hill comics.
Rant aside, it’s still one of my favourite adaptations. True, I think they probably could have done a more accurate adaptation, and if this were to be remade as a mini-series (hint, hint, any filmmakers reading this) I wouldn’t mind, but it’s clear that so much talent and love went into making this movie. The special effects are phenomenal, over a decade later, and a lot was actually hand-crafted. If you have the time, there’s a 30-minute documentary on the making of this film that you should watch. It’s on most of the DVD versions, probably on YouTube too. It is probably better to view the first film as an homage rather than a straight-up adaptation, because it does glomp together themes from other parts of the series, not that that’s a bad thing. Continue reading “Thoughts on the Silent Hill Films”