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Silent Hill director says movie adaptations don't have to be slavish retelling of games

Director Michael J. Bassett knows his audience.

Or at least, he knows the New York Comic Con audience.

There to pitch Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, his upcoming film adaptation of the Silent Hill 3 video game, Bassett talked with equal comfort about playing video games, filming in 3D, and plumbing the depths of the Silent Hill mythos.

He told those packed into the massive auditorium about his love of gaming, and in particular of the Silent Hill franchise. He talked about the brilliance of the games' use of sound design and of Konami's deft touch in creating monsters out of the corrupted human form.

But Bassett also seems to know that ultimately this audience isn't the one he should be listening to when turning a game into a film.

"The adaptation of a game shouldn't be a slavish retelling of the story," Bassett said. "With a game, you're making choices, with a movie you're being told a story and carried on an adventure."

And this particular adventure had to serve multiple roles, he explained. It had to be a sequel to the first film, an adaptation of the first video game. It also had to be approachable to people who maybe hadn't seen the first film, or hadn't played any of the video games.

To clear that hurdle, Bassett wrote a script that was a pastiche of Silent Hill games and inspirations.

The movie, set for an Oct. 26 release, is loosely based on the Silent Hill 3 game, while still serving as a sequel to that initial 2006 film. In the movie, Heather Mason, played by Adelaide Clemens, turns 18 and discovers that her identity and her past are both false. She soon finds herself in the town of Silent Hill with a man she just met named Vincent, played by Kit Harington.

Harington, Clemens, Bassett, and producer Samuel Hadida were all up on stage during the panel to discuss the making of the film and its influences.

Bassett said that landing the role of directing and writing this film was his introduction to the original movie, but that he's been playing the games since 2006 when the first one came out.

"It's a hugely atmospheric, deep, meaningful world," he said. "I think the game set the standard for quality storytelling and myth making in video games. I hope I've done justice to the games.

"I admired the first Silent Hill (film) for its aesthetic. I liked how it tried to capture what the game world was."

While that first film was almost universally panned, critics all seemed to delight in the outlandish setting and visuals of the movie. The story of the first movie, seemed to be the thing most reviled.

Bassett said that he decided to make significant changes to the role Vincent plays in the movie, departing so drastically from the game's plot that he considered renaming the character. The reason, he said, is that he felt that while the character brought an interesting element to the game, it wasn't fully explored, something he planned to do in the film.

Harrington decided to remain tight-lipped about his role in the movie for much of the talk.

"I play Vincent," he said, after being introduced, "and I can't tell you a hell of a lot about him. I don't want to spoil anything."

While the panel tried to steer clear of other significant spoilers from the movie as well, they did show off a 3D clip of the movie's mannequin monster, a spider-like creature that appears to be a collection of mannequins. Some fans of the games have said that the creature appears to be a variation of the Silent Hill 3 split worm.

Bassett promised that fans of the games will recognize a lot of little elements pulled directly from the games.

"When we made the movie we tried to put some Easter eggs in there," he said. "There are visuals that are frame-for-frame from the third game.

"When you watch the movie you will see some characters from the game too, there is a cameo at the end that will rock your socks."

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