The popular horror game franchise Silent Hill has always leaned into religious iconography. As such, it’s no surprise that the fan film Silent Hill: Mercy Or Damnation plays that angle up more so than the other cinematic adaptations. Writer-director-star Kevin Garner clearly loves the games and its musings on faith and revenge. But can he overcome his almost zero-dollar budget and create a scary work with a message?
Kevin (Kevin Garner) feels betrayed after learning that his girlfriend has been cheating on him. Wallowing in pity and wishing vengeance, Kevin’s best friend, Spiros (Spyridon Tsalikis), takes him out of the house and tries to talk sense into him. Eventually, this leads to a few verses from the Bible being read.
However, even after that pick-me-up, Kevin feels beckoned to the eerie town of Silent Hill. Here, he’s stalked by menacing demons, attacked by Pyramid Head, and haunted by unseen voices. Now, Kevin finds himself at a crossroads, where if he chooses poorly, his eternal fate will be intertwined with the scary town and its evil residents.
Silent Hill: Mercy Or Damnation acquits itself nicely in terms of eerieness. Shot compositions are startling, adding an unexpected creep factor. The editing by Garner finds a nice rhythm throughout the 47-minute runtime, so there’s a nice balance between the relationship drama and the hauntings.
“…Kevin feels beckoned to the eerie town of Silent Hill.”
Speaking of scary things, the costumes for the frightening denizens of Silent Hill are spot on. These creatures seem to have come straight out of the game. The makeup and blood effects, too, are good.
Unfortunately, the sound design leaves much to be desired. Some scenes, such as the two friends talking over burgers, have a tinny quality. In addition, Pyramid Head’s attack ranges from overly loud to average volume in just a few seconds. The sound mixing is the biggest detractor to the finished product, and on occasion, it is so poor that it takes viewers out of the experience.
Frustratingly, that is not the only flaw with Silent Hill: Mercy Or Damnation. Most of the cast comes across as flat and forced. Tsalikis is especially bad, feeling unnatural in front of the camera. Happily, there is one exception (see “most” above), and that is the lead himself. Garner is really strong, grounding the proceedings with authentic emotional depth. Garner makes the character’s inner struggle to find the power to forgive, and his spooky situation feel palpable and intense.
Silent Hill: Mercy Or Damnation is a diamond in the rough. The rough spots might turn off potential audience members, but the shining elements underneath are compelling. Garner’s affinity for the game is clear from the beginning, and the main allusions should make fans happy. As a filmmaker and actor, Garner is raw but shows great promise.
"…a diamond in the rough."