Different actors had different reactions upon reading the script. When Rose first tried to read the script, she was alone at night and got through ten pages before she had to put it down. She finished it a week later during the afternoon in the sun. Dahlia described it as, “Alice in Wonderland meets Dante’s Inferno” and Cybil found it riveting. Christopher, on the other hand, wondered who would come up with something like this.
Gans’s first experience with Silent Hill is when he played Silent Hill 1 on the Playstation. When he got permission to make the movie, eh brought it to a writer. The writer acknowledged that the fans of the series are a very protective fanbase, but said that an adaption has to be disassembled and reassembled to make a movie, although the original spirit should be kept in tact. Gans believes that the idea of the movie is to, “bring into the foreground the background story”. Rose describes the game and the movie both as “exploring the boundaries of reality”.
The camera movements and angles were observed and the effect was brought into the movie. One thing they didn’t bring into the movie, however, was Harry himself. When writing the movie, it was found more that a woman fit into the role better than Harry. Thus the theme of the story became, “Who’s a good mother, who’s a bad mother”. He believed the simple motive of a mother loving her daughter was best for this film. The characters themselves are described as being “emotional and vulnerable”, as well as “iconic”. He attempted to paint people like Dahlia “more grey than black”.
There were many similarities and many differences bewteen the movie and the video game, but Gans replies by saying, “A game is a game, and a film is a film”.
When casting for the Silent Hill movie, Gans decided to go with actors from independant films to give the movie a “different quality”. The female aspect was focused on in the movie under the idea that the males were grounded in reality and females were trapped in fantasy nightmares. According to Cybil, the female-driven set fostered a “very playful environment”.
When casting for Rose, what was required was “vulnerability but strength and determination”. We needed to feel for her in both her fear and her strong moments, and notice her become stronger throughout the film.
Her husband, Christopher, was the last person cast. Throughout the movie, Christopher had a “desparate stare” throughout the film, but when the movie stopped rolling, he would change completely.
Cybil’s character needed to be strong and authoritative, yet empathic. We as an audience were supposed to feel bad for her at the end. Cybil’s actress describes her character as having duality, and says that she is strong and yet misunderstood.
Dahlia has had a relationship with Gans for many years, and jumped on the chance to work on the film. According to Rose, Dahlia’s character is a lot of what the actress invested into her. Dahlia’s actress says that she visited a lot of websites and was quite influenced by the gamers in forming her character.
Although bad in the film, in reality Christabella is quite enthusiastic and playful. At first she was confounded by the script, but she then read it again and got to better understand it. She says that one of the most difficult things for her was doing Christabella’s speech.
In casting Alessa, Gans watched a mini series that she did and cast Alessa for the role. He was worried about finding a girl that could not only play the duality of Sharon and Alessa, but also someone whose parents would allow her to. When informing Alessa of the character she’s play, Alessa replied that she “always wanted to play a devil”. According to the other actors and actresses, Alessa is quite good at changing between Alessa and herself, going between happy and dark like a switch.
One of the goals of the set designers was to present a feeling of enclosure through the movie. One of the challenges presented to the team was that they needed four different types of sets, which included present day Silent Hill, Silent Hill as it was 30 years ago, the Foggy World, and the Otherworld. The town that they found to shoot in was Branford, which was going through renovations at the time. Thus they were able to play with the town as they wished and actually used large hoses to cover the town in ash. The aging and history of the town was stressed in the set design, with the foggy world specifically stressing “benign malevolence”. The Otherworld, on the other hand, is a world of blood and rust, whose contamination rises from the beginning of the film to the end.
A few sets had to be built by hand. One of those was the road which Rose crashes on. It took eight weeks to build and put the mountain in, as well as pave the road. The main reason for building this part of the set was that they wanted to control the fog themselves instead of having to add it in with CGI later. Another was the stairs that lead up to the church. The staff looked high and low for an actual location to shoot, but they couldn’t find a satisfactory place, so they built it themselves and then put the church outside the stairs.
The church itself had a lot of work put into it. The location for the church was originally an old factory and was based on old Amish meeting halls. About eight weeks were spent on the church, and three weeks on the painting by a local artist, John Fraiser. He would come in late at night to paint while work on the set went on in the day. Some people in the art department cast were inspiration for the faces in the painting, and Dahlia/Christabella was used as an inspiration for the woman being burned. It is explicitly stated that it is not either of them, but it’s suppoesd to look as though she were an ancestor. They didn’t want the church to look too Christian. Additionally, the pulley system used to hang the miners’ outfits were inspired by the real storage. After the shooting the scenes in the normal church, it was ripped apart and wood was burned to create a “fire aftermath” look, which was the dirtiest set they had to do.
The school was Alessa’s actress’s favorite set. The school itself in the school was girls’ only, just like the school in the film. The layout of the real school, however, is much different than the layout of the school in the film. Rooms that looked to be connecting really weren’t, and the corridors were all different. The scenes in the school were shot in chronological order, with release underneath the coat of paint. Thus when the past was shoot the school looked clean, and when it was finished they could simply peel the paint. Additionally, tiles could be taken away.
The hospital was two sections, both shot in the school. The basement of the hospital was in two sections, with the main corridor revamped to make up different corridors. However, the elevator was built separately. All in all, the set was described as “a visual feast” by those in charge.
Stars & Stunts
Rose is suppoesd to be a “normal person in an abnormal world”. As such, she is put through lots of things that require abnormal actions, and so the stunts come in. One problem that arose when attempting to drag Rose across the floor is that her clothing would shred on the floor. A skit plate had to be modelled for her body so that she could be dragged and not have to change her clothes all the time. One or Rose’s greatest stunts, though, was when she had to hop across the pit down to Dark Alessa. Rose watched her stunt double go across the pit, then she mimicked her stunt double and learned how to do it herself. Although she had a harness, she says that a lot of the fear on her face is real since she really did have to jump.
At one point in the movie, Pyramid Head swings his blade and Rose and Cybil must dodge it. They started slowly and doubled the speed of the blade until the maximum speed was finally reached. They were very closed to the blade, and describes it is described as “playing limbo”
Cybil had quite a few stunts herself that she had to perform. One of the things that she had to do was fight the miners outside the elevator. Cybil explains how the miners were wearing costumes with 1.5 inch thick metal, and she had no padding on her costume. She came away with scratches and bruises every day. That was small, however, compared to her stunt when she was hanging over the fire. She says that it was extremely hot, and they actually tied her to a ladder and was actually hung over with real spikes below the fire. Understandably, she felt quite nervous.
When creating the monsters, the design that was looked for was not gory. Instead, what they aimed for was, in their own words, “elegant”, “disburbing”, “slightly beautiful”, and yet “complegtely revolting”. The idea of the monsters was to give the impression that everyone was in pain and suffering, and the beings were made to look “real yet artificial”. Gans wanted to give the monsters the impression of screaming, and the make-up artist described the game as “the Bible” in making his creations.
Rose’s favorite character is the Armless character, Red Pyramid in second. The suit for the armless man is a light two piece costume that covers the actor completely, which surprisingly doesn’t take very long to get into. It is made of skintight silicon legs and a plastic-foam ribcage. Over the top is a big silicon “condom” that is about four feet long and buttons at the bottom. Due to this the armless man had a few nicknames on set, one of them being “Trojan Man” due to the fact taht he “looked like a gigantic condom walking around” and “had a big hole in his chest that shot acid”. The hole in the chest had a manafold with a vent and hose that could be plugged into black menthosel, which is food thickening mixed with water and black pigment. They could spray it out of the chest on cue. However, breathing was difficult in the costume, and it came with a mouthpiece and an airtube that came out of the back of the suit.
The grey child was the idea of the skin sliding backwards over the skull. The idea was to retain skeletal structure and retain the look of the skin liding over. The costume itself was made of latex and a silicon body suit. The hands and head were glued onto the actress’s own, and the make-up took two and a half hours to do every day. Another interesting fact about the costume is that the Gray Child’s actress constantly had to use the bathroom, so they created a flap in the costume just for her.
The cast was quite excited when the nurses came on due to the fact that there were tons of identical women on set without faces. The nurses were based closely off the game and had their faces adjusted for expression via CGI. Twenty latex nurse costumes were done for twenty girls and had zip ties and velcro included in their fastening since the costumes needed to be very tight on the girls. Rose also promised a nurse outfit, but she never got it.
The janitor’s costume had to be put on while he was on set. Additionally, two casts were taken of his body and dressed for the set, including the one seen when Rose must reach into its mouth. The janitor had artificial legs tied around his waist and were given bright green pants he called his “kermit parnts” so that they could green screen and cut out his real legs and give the impression that he was beng over double.
As far as Red Pyramid goes, they didn’t try to adjust his design. The costume was made out of light material so he could carry the stuff for hours. The actor for Red Pyramid, the same man as the Janitor, had artificial skin used for his chest. He says that it didn’t let the skin breathe, but that it was light “like a second skin”. A five part prosthetic was blended into his skin, and his butt and legs also had to be painted since he wasn’t allowed to wear underwear. The entire process took two to three hours. So that Pyramid Head could stand so tall, leg extensions were created for him so he was just short of seven feet. The heel of the boots he wore were fifteen inches, and there were two metal strips on either side to give his ankles support. Additionally, when Pyramid Head “grabs someone by the bloody neck”, in the words of the cast, dummies were created for safety.
When explaining his desires for seeing the monsters, Gans told his staff, “I don’t want disgusting. I want disturbing.”
The choreographer for the creatures was, in fact, a dancer himself, which helped with the artful movements of the monsters. The armless creature is indeed quite a work of art. The person who got the audition for the armless man had movement described as “smooth yet angular”, which fit the image of the creature perfectly. His movements were already creepy without choreography. When choreography was introduced, he had to try many different types of movement, from jumping to twisting to writhing on the floor. The costume itself required the actor to cross his arms over his chest, and due to the costume being too dark to see in, he had to count his steps when he moved.
The grey child’s actress was picked instantly based on her audition, likely helped by the fact that she is a dancer. She described moving for the role as action like “a tightrope walker”, as she had to use her arms to balance while walking. She could see a little bit out of the ear of the costume, but since the head moved, she didn’t always have visibility. People had to shout to her and she to them since the costume blocked noise into and out of it. Rose’s actress has never seen the woman who plays the Gray Child without a costume.
The nurses themselves are based heavily off of the video game, from appearance to movement. At one point durng the process, when Rose is in the Hospital one of the nurses, instead of pretending to attack Rose, accidently punched her in the jaw.
Red Pyramid and the Janitor were both played by the person who helped choreograph the other monsters. The Janitor’s movement was supposed to be obscene, but due to the costume, the only thing he could do was move his tongue.
Pyramid Head’s movement from the game were described by the actor as “simple yet poetic”, and he tried to replicate the movements from the game. The helmet itself was at least twelve pounds, and the first hour was rather difficult for him. The sword is also somewaht heavy, though it is not as heavy as it looks and it is even somewhat of a challenge to make it look as heavy as it was. He could only see the floor, and could see nothing ahead of him, so he found movement and balance a challenge. However, the women on set liked Red Pyramid. He had a “naked bottom” from the back. Rose’s actress described him as, “scary from the front but not scary from the back”.