A New Silent Hill Movie is Announced
On October 19, 2022, renowned video game studio Konami announced that Silent Hill would soon be returning to the silver screen. The movie, currently titled Return to Silent Hill, is still in production, so details are limited. However, we do know that Christophe Gans will be directing. This is great news considering Gans directed the 2006 Silent Hill movie which is generally well-regarded and is one of the better video-game movies ever made.
The announcement was part of Konami’s “Silent Hill Transmission” livestream which also announced the long-awaited return of the Silent Hill game series. Three new video games and a remaster of a classic game were all announced as being in development. As of 2022 it has been ten years since the last Silent Hill video game was released, so the promise of multiple games and a movie is extremely exciting for fans.
What is ‘Return to Silent Hill’ about?
Return to Silent Hill will adapt arguably the greatest game in the Silent Hill franchise, Silent Hill 2 (2001). Originally released on the PlayStation 2, players take on the role of James Sunderland, a man who travels to the supernaturally cursed town of Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his wife Mary telling him to find her there. The problem is, Mary died of illness three years prior. James’s journey deep into the dark heart of Silent Hill sees him face horrible monsters, dangerously unstable people, and his own inner demons.
The game uses psychological horror extensively, and for that reason, at the time of its release it was one of the most tense and frightening games ever. It’s still frightening today thanks to its incredibly gut-wrenching story that really gets into the head of the main character, and, by proxy, into the head of the player. Christophe Gans promises that Return to Silent Hill will also focus primarily on psychological horror while still delivering the monsters and scares expected of the Silent Hill franchise.
Whether Return to Silent Hill will be an exact adaptation of Silent Hill 2 or not remains unclear, but producer Victor Hadida assures us that the movie will be “modern, but also very true to the video game.” What this sounds like is that Gans will have freedom to alter what he wants, but always with the goal of honoring the intent of the game even if it can’t be recreated exactly for a movie.
As for the visuals in the movie, Gans and Hadida spoke in their teaser video about updating the looks of the monsters. In the 2006 Silent Hill movie, Gans already used two monsters that first appeared in the Silent Hill 2 game: Pyramid Head (aka Red Pyramid Thing) and the faceless nurses (aka Bubble Head Nurses). To keep them fresh, Gans spoke about working with Konami to redesign Pyramid Head. No word on the nurses, but the same approach will surely be taken. After all (while remaining vague to avoid possible spoilers) the specific appearances of the monsters in Silent Hill 2 are very important to conveying added impact to the story. Hopefully Gans takes that into consideration.
Though it hasn’t been explicitly stated by Gans or Hadida, Return to Silent Hill appears to be a reboot of the film series. Hadida refers to it as a “new universe.” Whether that means they’re starting over with a brand new Silent Hill, or if his words are simply a reference to a new character bringing with him a new perspective of the same town from the earlier movies probably won’t matter. Silent Hill 2 is a self-contained story, so the movie will likely be the same.
Since the movie is early in production, no release date has been announced.
Previous Silent Hill Movies
The first Silent Hill movie, directed by Christophe Gans, took a few noticeable liberties with the original 1999 video game, but it ultimately told a story close to its source material. In the movie, a mother named Rose Da Silva takes her daughter Sharon to Silent Hill in hopes of learning more about Sharon’s nightmares about the town. Rose and Sharon are separated, and Rose searches for Sharon through the town while being both hindered and helped by an overzealous police officer named Cybil. Silent Hill’s mysteries are revealed as Rose and Cybil face off against monsters and dangerous townspeople in a town that magically shifts between foggy and mysterious, to a decrepit nightmare world.
A direct sequel to the 2006 movie, Silent Hill: Revelation picks up a few years later with Sharon and her father Christopher (Sean Bean) on the run due to the fallout from the events of the first movie. The pair have taken assumed names, Heather and Harry Mason, and the movie is about Heather discovering her connection to Silent Hill. Christophe Gans was unable to direct this sequel due to his work on a cancelled Onimusha movie, and new director M.J. Bassett was unable to recreate the quality of the 2006 film. Silent Hill: Revelation is based on the video game Silent Hill 3 (2003).
About the Silent Hill Franchise
Silent Hill is a series of video games that helped pioneer the “survival horror” genre. Eight Silent Hill games were released between 1999 and 2012, with multiple spin-off games also being released during that time. The series has been relatively dormant since 2012 with no new games being released since then. A new game titled Silent Hills was teased in 2014 with the release of the now-classic PlayStation 4 demo titled P.T., but the game was cancelled, leaving fans hoping for years for a return to the darkness of Silent Hill.
The Silent Hill games tend to focus on psychological horror as much as they do fighting (or rather, running from) monsters. The early games in the series are considered classics, and, along with game series like Resident Evil, they are incredibly influential in the development of countess horror video games that came after. Silent Hill games are heavy on atmosphere and tension, and they tend to focus on realistic, ordinary people in fantastical (and horrifying) situations.
The town of Silent Hill serves as the location for most of the games in the series. Silent Hill is a small town in Maine (changed to West Virginia for the movies) that, in an ideal situation, is a quaint place perfect for a quiet, relaxing vacation. There is darkness in Silent Hill though. While the backstory is too complicated to succinctly explain, cults and occult practices turned Silent Hill into a place filled with every horror imaginable. Silent Hill also has what can best be described as parallel planes of existence. One plane appears mostly like the normal town, but it is filled with a dense fog in which monsters dwell. Another plane, known as the Otherworld, is a dark, decaying distortion of Silent Hill shaped by the psyche of the person experiencing it. People are unwillingly transported to these different planes at various times while roaming throughout the town.
Hopefully, Return to Silent Hill will lean into the idea that the town and the nightmares that reside within it are directly influenced by the people who visit it. James Sunderland’s story in Silent Hill 2 is a fascinating one, and seeing how the filmmakers translate that into a movie should be very exciting. And hopefully it will still be interesting for those of us who have played the game and know how his story turns out.