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Feature: Silent Hill

The poster We go behind the scenes on the terrifying new chiller from the director of Brotherhood of the Wolf, Christophe Gans

When you see the dank, dark decrepit hospital at the end of Silent Hill, you may be inclined to think it was cold. Make no mistake, the scene was filmed in an unventilated Toronto warehouse on a hot July day. Radha Mitchell had to stand around caked in blood and bruises, but that was nothing compared to the poor zombie actresses whose whole faces were covered in prosthetics.

The scene comes near the end of the film, as Rose (Mitchell) must wade through a crowd of zombie nurses after the hospital is encased in an all-pervading Darkness which has permeated the entire town of Silent Hill. Keeping her spirits up, Mitchell would wag her tongue at the end of a tense, quiet take, or one of the zombie actresses would improvise her own weird dance choreography before the director finally yelled, “Action!”

Given about an hour’s reprieve from the warehouse set, the actors and film-makers gathered in an air conditioned conference room. Forced to maintain continuity for the rest of the day’s filming, Mitchell still sported half a face worth of realistic cuts and scratches.

“This is just the beginning,” Mitchell said. “There’s an art and a science to it, and there’s people whose heads are on the line, to keep each dot as it is and, and each hair as deconstructed as it looks right now. It takes a lot of design. How long does it take? It took longer in the beginning. I think it can be done in like 40 minutes, the whole look. And it’s great because I don’t have to wash my hair, I can just come to work every day like this.”

Based on the video game series, Silent Hill is the story of parents Rose (Mitchell) and Christopher (Sean Bean) whose dying daughter goes missing in the town of Silent Hill. As they look for her, they discover supernatural forces possessing the town.

Director Christophe Gans was a fan of the video game series. Believing that no good movie has yet to be made out of a video game, Gans would not entrust any other film-maker to look after Silent Hill. For him, a scene like today’s, all about darkness and movement without flashy effects or gore, goes against the Hollywood norm.

“That’s interesting, to actually create a sequence of suspense with the monster not moving,” Gans said. “We are all seeing a lot of movies from Hollywood and we know that they are made up of the movement and the fast cut and everything. I think it’s interesting sometimes to create an interesting film just the opposite. I like this idea that that’s a suspense scene among people who are almost not moving. I think it’s interesting.”

by Fred Topel

Read the full interview in
Shivers #127

Image © TriStar Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2006. Not for reproduction

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Shivers #127
May 2006
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