Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Silent Hill (also, go Oilers)

It’s about one o’clock or so in the morning, with screams and howls fighting their way past glass, grime and IKEA cotton to find me in my bed. It’s not the moaning din of lost and tormented souls that comes out of the night, but a jubilation of demons, a wordless animal rejoicing – the Oilers have taken game three at the Coliseum (retro nomenclature; playoff superstition) and the pent-up energy of four-and-a-half periods of knuckle-chewing, penalty-killing and pop-eyed screaming has burst the barrooms and poured from the parking lots in a wave of copper, blue and pasty white. Whoo! Honk-honk! I’d love to be out there, but LimeWire says it’s only five minutes and… no, wait; twelve minutes and thirty… no, a minute twent… no, three days, two hours and… no, five minutes, seriously, until my illegal download of Silent Hill is complete.

Not to beat the same drum three weeks in a row, but please feel me on this, kids: it’s hell keeping one’s Nerd Focus when skies are blue, bikes are rolling, and the budding beginnings of the city’s Yavinesque blanket of green are kicking out that sweet valley fragrance. The games themselves are one thing, but how do you convince one of your buddies – how do you convince yourself -- to leave a copiously drink-ticketed patio party filled with pretty people in favor of a boring-ass busride to WEM and a screening of a game-based movie? You don’t; you just sort of throw the idea down on the table and watch it drain through the cracks with the pools of spilled Grasshoper, you absorb the disgusted stares of strangers, you nervously shrug and stammer through the silence (“I mean, it’s… it’s supposed to be not that bad…”), and you tell yourself you’ll see it on the weekend. On the bright weekend of bocce and barbecue.

I’m a fan of the Silent Hill series, I guess, in the cheap and diluted current sense of “fan”… it’s not like I have SH posters up in my room (that’d be creepy) or a Red Pyramid tattoo on my arm (that’d be creepy, but actually pretty cool on somebody else). They’re the most genuinely horrifying games in a genre that relies largely on gore and BOO! for its thrills, nauseating journeys into metaphysical madness that leave mile-wide marks on one’s psyche. Claustrophobic, disorienting, cold-sweat-inducing… man, it’s worth picking up a pawnshop PSOne just to get in on this. Every aspect of Silent Hill – the pacing, the music, the art direction, the nightmare design – is, with expected quality fluctuations across the series, perfectly pitched to fuck you up forever. It didn’t need to have a movie spun off it – what game does? – but an adaptor couldn’t pick richer source material.

That said, reviews have been mixed. Meaning, mainstream (and even sidestream) film critics have universally shit all over it (“Stupefyingly incoherent” -- New York Post; “Shoddy dialogue and incoherent story constantly irritate” – Globe and Mail; “[negative quote TBA]” – Vue Weekly; etc.) while forum fanboys, shellshocked by Teutonic hack Uwe Boll’s stream of anti-hits and desperate to lay the love on any game movie that doesn’t outright kick the beloved source material in the nuts, have made the film a bit of a rallying point against those toffee-nosed pricks who just don’t get it, who refuse to get it (jerks), and who should probably stick to jacking off to gay cowboys or whatever OMG LOL fagz. This critical conversation failed to arouse any of my friends’ curiosities, and to be honest barely prodded at mine… bottom line, we couldn’t tear ourselves away from sprummertime fun in order to sit in a freezing-cold unlit cavern for two-and-a-half hours with a film that is either a) one of the all-time shitburgers or b) a work of art appreciated only by semiliterate nerds who beak off in online forums.

So, I figured, why not pirate the fucker, watch it in casual front-porch laptop comfort? Why not, indeed; here I am, already past deadline, alone in my room, waiting on my third attempted download since Sunday afternoon. The first file I grabbed, a ten-hour download, was ninety minutes of blank black – pirate-confounding movie-industry spam. The second was the Silent Hill trailer, forty times back-to-back – more spam. But I’ve got a good feeling about this one after twenty-six long hours of downloading, Oiler confidence radiating from Whyte. Two minutes… three… ten… one… five… twenty seconds… fifty… fourteen… two hours… two seconds… verifiying file contents… aaaaand… BINGO! There it is! We’ve got sound, good… distributor logo, awesome… studio logo… hey. Hey! What the fuck? This is Saw! I’m so screwed!

(Moral: Film piracy destroys careers; don’t do it!)

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