"We don't speak her name anymore."

I saw Silent Hill tonight, as promised. It wasn't particularly good. I can't say I'm surprised; my love of the horror genre doesn't blind me to the fact that most horror movies suck, and my love of video games doesn't blind me to the fact that all video game movies suck. (Except for Tron. Death to the MCP!) I don't mind seeing crummy movies in the theater from time to time, though, as ticket prices around here are cheap, and the trailer for this one hadn't looked half bad.

Comparatively speaking, the movie wasn't half-bad either. The dialogue is terrible, and the script, apart from a few moments of surprising subtlety, is a mess, but the visuals are often striking, and there are a few sequences that almost make up for the flaws. Review-wise, it's a walk in the park, because if you want to see it, you'll probably find something to like, and if you don't want to see it, you should trust that instinct.

There is one thing worth mentioning, though. And it constitutes a slight spoiler, so if you're determined to see this one clean, stop reading. (This post. I mean, stop reading this post. Cause if you just stopped reading, you could never do crossword puzzles again.)

A lot of unpleasant things happen to people who really don't deserve them in this film, and one of the most important victims is a little girl; and one of things that happens to her is that she's raped by the school janitor. It's presented quickly, and in the movie's favor, there's no exploitation- at least, there's no visceral exploitation. But there's something off-putting in this rapidity; it ends up being emotionally exploitative by the casual presentation, like it was an afterthought just to ensure a response by the audience.

It's cheap, and it's a disconcerting moment in a movie that is otherwise, apart from a few deeply awkward conversational exchanges and some ultra-violence, largely inoffensive. I think what bothers me the most is the laziness of it. I accept, when I go to a scary flick, that there will be the usual cheap scares; you see enough of these movies, you start to fear any open spaces on the screen because you just know nasty stuff is going to pop up there. The quick shots of the frightened girl and leering janitor are a variation on this theme, but whereas a music sting with a fleeing figure aim for the base of the spine only, this new version is appealing to a more complex response mechanism. Its approach provides the illusion of complexity where there is none, and treats the audience as sheep.

Still, I'd say this is the best video game to movie adaptation we've seen yet. As someone who's written extensively on Super Mario Bros, I believe I am qualified to make that call.

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