Rob Abrazado (flatvurm) wrote,
Rob Abrazado

Wakey wakey

Hello, again, LJers. I'm tired as hell today. Mostly because I slept pretty fitfully last night. For some reason I kept having bizarre dreams that kept me from getting real restful sleep. I know a lot more went on than what I remember now, but here's what I remember.

At one point I was some kind of AI defense system in a secret base. Not exactly an AI...more like a cyborg. Remember in TNG when Barclay plugged his brain into the Enterprise and kind of became the ship's computer? It was more like that. I remember I had pupils; I (somehow) watched them dilate as information streamed in. Our base (whoever "we" are) was under attack by a hostile AI, and eventually the attack turned the form of a pink child's bicycle, which was on fire, racing around our air ducts and...firing missiles? I dunno, man...the whole thing was tense. I think I surfaced to consciousness eventually and broke that dream, and then the next one took over.

The following dream, which took me all the way to eventually getting out of bed, revolved around my part in a money-laundering scheme that my mother had somehow gotten me into by getting involved with some kind of organized crime syndicate. For my part, I had to transport a large amount of cash to California by driving it there. My mom's house, which was sort of the headquarters for this operation, was some kind of amalgam of our family's place back in the East Bay and the house I lived in much later in life out the East Bay. It was just a place sitting out on a curvy road in the woods. Somehow, though, this was still all taking place in South Jersey. In any case, I spent much of the time prepping for the trip and dodging gangsters, but eventually I just came to worry about how I was going to drive to California and back again without missing any days of work. What was weirdest about this was that I was doing all this worrying against the backdrop of my real waking life work schedule, so as I was coming to this morning, it took my quite a while to shake the feeling that I not only had to plan for work in the next few days, but also had to somehow squeeze a drive to California in there. Strange feeling. Even now I feel like I'm negligent in some important assignment. But anyway. Yeah. Awake now.

So enough about that.

A couple nights ago I continued the Video Game Movie Project with a screening of Silent Hill. Dude, that movie was great! Let me first preface this by saying that I'm not that much into horror films. That said, there are a few I really enjoy, and this was one of them. A lot of times, horror films go for what I think of as the "cheap shot," basically just using the element of surprise to go for the scare. Like a calm, or even tense but quiet, scene is in front of you, then suddenly -- BAM -- something jumps into frame and there's a sudden music sting...know what I mean?'s scary, but it's a startle reaction. The things I like are much more on the suspenseful end of the scale; kind of a plateau of tense, not a spike of terror. In any case, Silent Hill delivered; I was low-level spooked much of the whole film. Good stuff.

What I found most interesting, actually, after the fact, was the technical aspect of making this film work. First off, the effects were really good. The transition between "worlds" was well done. It wasn't abrupt or jarring; it was creepy and subtly unsettling. You just felt something wrong was going on here. Monsters were just human-like enough to be really troubling, nothing cartoony or totally off-the-wall. Things were just...wrong. (Like the scene with the nurses in the hallway. *shudder*) And, of course, Pyramid Head.

I really feel like they did a good job with lighting and visualization and stuff, though. Here's the thing: the game itself was a lot more...claustrophobic, say. But trying to present the movie the same way that the game was visually presented would have been a mistake. In the game, your perspective is, for the most part, very limited. Being in a game environment, though, is so much more immersive and interactive that there is a lot of suspense payoff from a lack of visual information. If you tried that in a movie, viewers would (rightfully) get pretty bored pretty quick. Either that, or you have to do a whole lot of crazy panning and probably first-person perspective, and people can get sick of that pretty quickly, too. (Remember Blair Witch?) So the movie had to open things up a bit just for being a movie. But they did it in a good movie way. The danger was still clear, and the tension level was still high. And you visual field was sometimes still limited, but in a movie way, not in a video game way. (And it's a lot harder to light a movie than a video game.) So kudos for that bit of adaptation.

Storywise, it was pretty decent, too. The change of the lead from the father to the mother...well, I felt it made a more satisfying narrative, frankly. They also kept the female cop, but not that doctor guy. This movie was all about the women, basically. The main male characters, the father and the detective, were kind of a side-story. In fact, gender lines seemed pretty split along the different worlds, which makes things kind of interesting. Also fun for me, though this could possibly be my own particular twist on things, is that I was never wholly convinced about the good and/or evil of the "sides" involved. I know this is something I like to have neatly polarized in my action films, but I enjoy a little ambiguity in films like these, these kind of...crazy films.

To start off, I felt pretty early on that the mom was a little nuts to begin with, even before crazy shit started going down. (Eventually I was to come to feel that pretty much everyone involved was nuts, too.) I don't know if that was intentional or not on the filmmakers' part, but for me it sort of colored the rest of the story. As the emotional level intensified and the stakes got higher, I kept wondering more and more whether there were really any good guys or bad guys in this setup. You know how bad guys sometimes just...don't know they're bad? They think they're doing good? I like stories from the "bad guy" perspective in that sense; something that makes the audience think about it. I'm not sure if that was the intention with Silent Hill, but I definitely got that vibe from it, that there may not be so much "good and evil" going on here as much as just differences in points of view. I don't remember the game being that ambiguous, but I'm pleased, in my way, that the movie came off that way.

Anyway. So two thumbs up for Silent Hill. Watch it in the dark.

It got me to thinking, too. Remember Eternal Darkness? I keep wondering if that would make a good movie. Translating the game directly into a movie I think would be pretty challenging; I'm not so sure that would turn out so well. I've always thought that the game world would make a great setting, but in my mind it always turns out like an action film. So I dunno... A lot of things that go on the game work because it's a game, and not because they're innately scary. Sure, there are scary things that go on, but a lot of times they're just horror tropes, so...I don't know if it would survive well on film. Still. Awesome world. :)

Aaaanyway. So we'll take a few days of hiatus from the Video Game Movie Project while Netflix catches up with me. Coming up: a few more installments of the Resident Evil franchise, and the moving on to the next section: Tomb Raider. Best of luck with that, huh? :)

Peace out, everybody!
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