Episode 49. Achievement Unlocked: Resident Evil (2002) and Silent Hill (2006)

Andrea and Alex combine their powers and enter all the cheat codes to analyze two of the most iconic survival horror games that were re-imagined as movies. With a look at how narratives transition across mediums and the rise in popularity of video game and nerd culture, their two-player co-op campaign attempts to unlock the mysteries of both films.

REQUIRED READING

Resident Evil. Dir. Paul W.S. Anderson, 2002.
Silent Hill. Dir. Christophe Gans, 2006.

EXTRA CREDIT

 The Town That Was – A documentary on the history and lineage of the town of Centralia, Pennsylvania, upon which Silent Hill was based.

Tropes vs Women in Video Games. The first season of Anita Sarkeesian’s webseries.

Alice in Wonderland; The Psychoanalytic Approach – One of the many, many analyses of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland which identifies Alice’s search for identity.

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13 thoughts on “Episode 49. Achievement Unlocked: Resident Evil (2002) and Silent Hill (2006)

  1. Steve Sick says:

    My favorite time of the month is when a new episode is released. Good job with two movies that I have always viewed as guilty pleasures. I enjoyed rewatching them for the episode.

  2. Billy says:

    Such a treat when a new episode arrives! As an old gamer, it was interesting to hear a take on the movies from reviewers not intimately familiar with the source material. For me it’s always been difficult to approach these simply as movies, without the luggage of the games affecting my impressions.

    Personally I was very disappointed in the Silent Hill movie. For me it was a huge missed opportunity despite the faithful visuals. Allow me as a fan of Silent Hill 2 in particular to elaborate on what I think made the game special and what key elements the movie failed to latch on to.

    To many enthusiasts like myself, Silent Hill 2 was a wholly unique entry in the gaming pantheon. Upon release it was one of the extremely few titles of the entire medium that actually had some real art house aspirations. It told a lean, compelling ghost story of sorts that managed to escape the pulpy b-movie trappings that virtually all games were mired in. It felt like a “real” story that just happened to be expressed through a game instead of a book or a film, and something that could just as well been either successfully.

    And what makes the second installment special compared to the other Silent Hill games, besides the memorable visuals and music, is that it mostly gets rid of the overarching plot that anchors 1 and 3. While the other entries tells a fairly hokey story about a cursed New England town and a puritan church turned evil Lovecraft-style cult, Silent Hill 2 gets rid of all that. Stripped of explanations and backstory, 2 becomes a very intimate story about a depressed individual drawn towards a mysterious and haunting location. Various morbid manifestations of his past eventually forces a reckoning within his personal morals. There is no dark god to be foiled, no cult or larger end game, the story just ends when the main guy faces up to his own evils. You are never told the why of the town, how it works and what the purpose is of this strange dimension. Is it purgatory, is he merely going insane, is it the Bermuda Triangle, who knows? That ambiguity, intimate character portrait and mystery makes the game a sibling of movies like The Shining, Jacob’s Ladder and Lost Highway. (These also happened to be the movies that directly inspired the game developers.) Silent Hill 2 is like a very scary Twilight Zone episode where someone walks into an inexplicable nightmare without knowing why. It could have been the type of artsy story Tarkovsky filmed in between Solaris and Stalker.

    And that gets at my main issue with the Silent Hill film we did get. The movie took all those striking visuals from the second game, but paired it up with the plot-lines from the first and third entry. All the evil cult stuff, the kinda dumb content that takes away from the intriguing nature of the setting itself. I wish that there would have been a David Lynch or a Kubrick or a Jim Jarmush style director to make something smarter, more challenging and less commercial. Silent Hill at it’s best deserves to be more than horror schlock in the style of The Conjuring. It should be something smart and wonderful like The Witch instead! 🙂

    My five cents. Thanks for talking about these films.

  3. Michele says:

    I’ve never been so excited by the ending song before 🙂

  4. mrm1138 says:

    Okay, I give. Can someone please let me know which other movie they were cryptically referring to as a recent “surprise witch movie”?

  5. Sam Costello says:

    Another great episode. I remember going to see Silent Hill on a lark, not expecting much, and partway through realizing I was super into it and tense. Turned out to be a really good time, despite the movie’s flaws.

    One thing you mentioned during the discussion of Resident Evil—the concern that there might be too much sympathy for the zombies and that they should be cannon fodder—resonated with me. It reminded me strongly of a piece on this topic, in light of the current political environment, that I liked a lot: http://www.vulture.com/2016/12/the-walking-deads-fascism.html

    See you next month.

  6. Sean Kelly says:

    I would argue that Resident Evil is one of the videogame adaptations to be successful, despite being nothing like the game it is based on.

    Even with the dated 1990s graphics, the video game is actually quite scary at times (especially during the first zombie dog attack). In fact, I plan on getting the HD remaster one of these days and get scared with modern graphics.

    Also Jill Valentine (who barely appears in the film series) > Alice

  7. Richard says:

    Thanks, Professors, for another great listen. First off, TOTAL mad props to Jovovich! And such a shame that, like Sigourney, she isn’t heralded as a sci-fi/action/horror icon the way some old patriarchic fools are. And I really dug the idea about the doubles in Silent Hill. Extending (maybe connected?) from that, I remember on first watch liking how Silent Hill used the idea of dimensions stacked upon each other (ie, when Chris smells Rose) rather than being faroff separate places. And speaking of Sean Bean not dying… http://www.telegraph.co.uk/film/what-to-watch/sean-bean-john-hurt-death-count/

  8. Magnus says:

    Great episode, thanks a bunch! But you really need to keep updating that spotify playlist and/or add info about extro song in episode data. Those songs kinda wrap each episode up in a nice way and listening to them I kinda relive the listen. Love from Sweden!

  9. Lizzi says:

    Just wanted to say as a gamer who loves horror movies/games I really enjoyed this episode! Those are two of my favorite horror movies and definitely my favorite video game movies. I’m also a fan of Jodelle Ferland who plays Sharon/Alessa. Fun fact, besides playing a scary kid in a number of horror movies/tv shows she also has done video game voice work- she did the voices of the Litle Sisters in Bioshock 2.
    It was also great to hear the Portal song at the end as as Portal 1 and 2 are some of my favorite games.

  10. Maxx Golbraykh says:

    Hi Alex, Andrea,

    First time listener, and I loved this episode. I fully agree on both movies and you guys had some interesting insights (like the flower name thing) that I had not picked up on. As an avid gamer, I wanted to ask you guys a question.

    Just about every online game today has mute capabilities where people you don’t want to talk to can be effortlessly muted. I never hear this mentioned when this conversation comes up, and I wanted to ask why playing online is so intimidating even though these features exist.

    I was also curious if you guys have played Rainbow Six Siege. This game does a fantastic job of representing women as strong and capable. It has zero sexualization or male gaze aspects. Over a third of the characters are female and they are all bad ass. I’m really surprised this game isn’t used more often as an example of how to do things right.

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