Silent Hill: Mercy or Damnation Image

Silent Hill: Mercy or Damnation

By Michael Talbot-Haynes | October 18, 2022

Stranger, the sound of that fog horn in the distance means you better get off the streets now. You see, that horn sounds when the fan-made Christian faith-based Silent Hill adaptations rise up to walk the earth. One such movie is writer/producer/director/star Kevin Garner’s Silent Hill: Mercy or Damnation. Does the filmmaker’s inspiration from the videogame inspire the filmmaking style here?

Kevin (Kevin Garner) wakes up from a nightmare where a creepy female demon (Aeneas Riddick) attacks him at his office. He picks up his buddy, Spiros (Spyridon Tsalikis), to go to the park for lunch. On the way, Kevin unburdens himself of the pain his cheating ex-girlfriend is causing him. Spiros tells Kevin to think of Jesus and how he forgave everyone, even cheating girlfriends. While eating fries, Spiros has Kevin look up a passage in the Bible to see how forgiveness works. After speaking further to Kevin about Jesus, Spiros is dropped off for a work thing while Kevin has Siri take him to another park so he can think.

At this park with his head in his hands, Kevin suddenly comes to the mist-shrouded ghost town of Silent Hill. Bethany (Courtney Smith), a spooky little girl with a teddy bear with her hair covering her face, tells him to leave immediately. Soon Kevin is running for his life while being chased by a female demon with a menacing voice. All the while, the sinister Pyramid Head (Spyridon Tsalikis) is stomping closer and closer.

“…Kevin suddenly comes to the mist-shrouded ghost town of Silent Hill.”

When writing reviews, I always try to look at the picture from the target audience’s perspective: who is this for, and how does it meet or exceed expectations? So, who exactly is the target audience for Silent Hill: Mercy or Damnation? Obviously, the faith-based crowd is one, but due to the evangelical nature of the storyline and material, you would also need to include the desired secular viewers diverted by a shared love of the Silent Hill franchise.

However, I found you had to lick through a lot of Jesus to get to the Silent Hill center of Garner’s Tootsie Roll pop. Not that Jesus tastes all that bad. For starters, Garner brings up a legitimate point on the function of forgiveness. It isn’t just cause Christ says so. Also, the bait and switch of sweet Silent Hill promise replaced by picnic table sermons makes the whole thing rather amusing while waiting for the fan stuff to kick in.

When Garner brings his story into Silent Hill, everything gets up and dances. Being a huge fan of Be Kind, Rewind, I am impressed with the fright level Garner’s backyard version of the creepy game achieves. He has the directing chops to be genuinely scary, as well as the acting chops to look genuinely scared. The fan tribute bits, which usually can be very painful due to limitations, excel here before everyone comes to, and we talk about Jesus some more. I am still undecided whether Garner deliberately pulled punches with his basic, functional shots and cuts in the Christian Kansas parts before heading off to wilder lighting and angles. The whole thing works in a weird way, possibly due to the intriguing use of spooky video game imagery for spiritual expressionism.

Overall, Silent Hill: Mercy or Damnation is very well made for a fan project. For the faithful, you see a brother use the word to get through his trial while getting the pants scared off you. Gamers will be impressed by how close Garner gets with only two thin dimes to rub together. For WTF lovers and cinema weirdos, think of this like those irresistible little Jesus comic books you find in the bathroom at the bus station. It makes me wonder what other Christian versions of IPs there are out there and how to start hunting for them.

For screening information, visit the Silent Hill: Mercy or Damnation official website.

Silent Hill: Mercy or Damnation (2022)

Directed and Written: Kevin Garner

Starring: Kevin Garner, Aeneas Riddick, Spyridon Tsalikis, Courtney Smith, etc.

Movie score: 6.5/10

Silent Hill: Mercy or Damnation Image

"…like those irresistible little Jesus comic books you find in the bathroom at the bus station."

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