SILENT HILL: Shout Factory Resurrects the Best Video Game Adaptation [Blu Review]

Shout Factory invites you to disappear into their new 2-Disc Special Edition

Christophe Gans’ film version of Konami’s Silent Hill franchise is a rarity when it comes to video game adaptations: it preserves the spirit and visual style of the original source material while attempting (to varied success) to translate hours’ worth of gameplay into a coherent, single-film story.

More than a decade since the film’s release — and eventual demise of the video game series — Shout Factory’s new Blu-ray does a fantastic job of positioning Silent Hill as a horror classic on its own terms. With a treasure trove of new and archival special features, Shout Factory recontextualizes Silent Hill as one of those rare examples of creative freedom given to a project that wasn’t just a big-budget adaption of a video game franchise, but a horror film that’s just as heavy on atmosphere as much as it is on grotesque shocks.


After little Sharon is plagued with nightmares fixated on her birthplace of Silent Hill, her adopted mother Rose decides to take Sharon to the long-abandoned West Virginia town in search of a cure. After a roadside accident causes Sharon to go missing outside of town, Rose must search the foggy streets of Silent Hill for her daughter and the answers to her mysterious past. But something else lurks in the darkness of Silent Hill — a nightmarish world of monsters and metal that’s out to claim Rose and Sharon for good.

Much like the video game series it’s based upon, Christophe Gans’ Silent Hill is an otherworldly blend of horror styles — from David Lynch’s dread-laden atmosphere to the body horror of David Cronenberg. Like a feverish hallucination, the rationale behind Silent Hill’s creatures and hellish setting is only explained so far — creating a frightening amount of unpredictability to a relatively straightforward story.

There’s much to love about Silent Hill on a purely visual level — while he realized his audience’s potential unfamiliarity with the material (only 150 copies of the game were released in his native France), Gans fiendishly dedicated himself to bringing the world of Silent Hill to life. Props, set designs, and even camera movements are directly lifted from what was already a heavily-cinematic video game, and the film’s soundtrack is more often than not a “greatest hits” of game composer Akira Yamaoka’s series-spanning work (with some delightfully demonic additions by co-composer Jeff Danna). While the end result may disorient audiences unused to the original series, and some moments bear the stilted dialogue and coincidental scenework of lesser video-game adaptations, Christophe Gans’ film remains an undeniably visceral and terrifying film, immersing the audience in a uniquely nightmarish world that runs on its own perverse dream logic.

It’s also clear that Gans does his best to create a practical world that his actors can react to, and as a result brings out some of their best work. Radha Mitchell and Laurie Holden are effective horror protagonists, screaming and shooting their way through setpiece after setpiece without losing sight of their characters’ emotional drive. Equal spotlight is given to some of my favorite character actors as well, from Kim Coates to Deborah Kara Unger, and even pre-Game of Thrones Sean Bean. The standout, though, is Alice Krige’s Christabella, who takes what could be a cartoonish villain and imbues her with a disturbingly evocative zealotry, a cult leader whose sole method of survival relies on the utmost dedication to their wicked beliefs.


Shout Factory presents Silent Hill via an approved HD master working in collaboration with Director Christophe Gans. Contrast and black levels are sharp and the details of the film’s laborious production and creature designs are well-preserved. It’s revealed in the special features that the film was shot on both digital and film — a relative novelty back in 2006 — and the two styles blend remarkably well in this presentation.

Audio options include both DTS-HD Master 2.0 and 5.1 mixes. Akira Yamaoka and Jeff Danna’s score truly shines in these mixes, as well as a dynamic, hallucinatory sound design full of rusty metal and ambient echoes. Both tracks serve well to heighten the dread Gans and cinematographer Dan Laustsen’s visual style builds throughout. English SDH subtitles are also included for the feature, while the film’s special features go unsubtitled.


Shout Factory has put together an impressive release, gathering almost five hours’ worth of special features. Included are new interviews with cast and crew as well as archival featurettes from US and international releases. It would have been nice to see interviews with stars Radha Mitchell, Alice Krige, or even Silent Hill’s iconic composer Akira Yamaoka. However, the talent involved here talk at length about the film’s rigorous production with an extensive amount of insight, making this release a significant upgrade from previous releases.

Packaging features a reversible slipcover of the film’s original theatrical poster and newly-designed art by illustrator Devon Whitehead featuring the film’s myriad nightmarish monsters.


  • Audio Commentary: Justin Beahm moderates a feature-length conversation with Silent Hill Cinematographer Dan Laustsen, delving into the challenges of adapting the visual style of the video games in a coherent cinematic fashion, easter eggs for eagle-eyed fans, and other technical aspects used to bring the chaotic world of Silent Hill to life.
  • Theatrical Trailer: Silent Hill’s US trailer.


  • Interview with Director Christophe Gans: The Blu-ray’s most impressive highlight is this 3-part, 72-minute conversation with Silent Hill’s director Christophe Gans. Gans discusses how he got into horror filmmaking with Necronomicon, his first foray into Japanese-to-English adaptations with 1995’s Crying Freeman, and ultimately how his success with Brotherhood of the Wolf led into his pursuit of the Silent Hill film rights. Over a decade since the film’s release, Gans is refreshingly candid about his experiences fighting to retain the videogame’s nightmarish atmosphere and dream logic, as well as the film’s reception by fans both abroad and in his home country of France.
  • A Tale Of Two Jodelles: Jodelle Ferland (Sharon), now an adult, reflects on her unconventional upbringing as a child actress and her memories working on a graphic horror film as a 10-year-old kid. Ferland shares fun anecdotes like sneaking into Radha Mitchell’s trailer to play the Silent Hill games in between takes, as well as surprising cosplayers who don’t recognize the grown-up actress at video game conventions.
  • Dance of the Pyramid: Roberto Campanella discusses how he drew upon his career as a professional dancer in Rome to create the visceral movement styles of Silent Hill’s creatures, as well as his experience playing the Janitor and fan-favorite Pyramid Head.
  • Interview with Paul Jones: In this two-part, 50-minute interview, special effects makeup designer Paul Jones discusses how his fascination with practical effects began as a kid with early rubber-monster movies. Jones continues into varied anecdotes from his long-storied film career, the complex and frequently frustrating makeup process involved in creating Silent Hill’s creatures, and what he learned and improved upon for the sequel, Silent Hill: Revelation.
  • Path of Darkness — Making “Silent Hill:” This six-part in-depth look into Silent Hill’s production was sadly removed from the initial Sony Blu-ray release of the film, and has thankfully been restored for Shout Factory’s release. A few shots also provide tantalizing glimpses into the production of scenes eventually removed (and remain unseen) from the final cut.
  • “On Set” and “Around the Film” Vintage Featurettes: Twenty minutes of featurettes are ported over from the equally-extensive French release of the film.
  • Photo Gallery and Poster Gallery: Production stills and marketing materials from the film.

While both the film and video game series may have met their ends by the time of this review, Shout Factory’s new Blu-ray resurrects Silent Hill for a new generation of horror fans just in time for a well-deserved and overdue reappraisal.

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