Reel Toronto: Silent Hill
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Reel Toronto: Silent Hill

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.

No one has ever made a good movie based on a video game, but damn, if they don’t keep trying. Toronto has a proud tradition of hosting terrible video game movies, from Max Payne to various installments of the Resident Evil series.

Silent Hill fits finely into that tradition, though it’s perhaps a bit moodier than average. It wasn’t much more successful than any of those other efforts, but it did well enough that they’re making a sequel (for whatever that’s worth), and we’ve already been able to track some of the shooting that went down last year. If nothing else, Silent Hill 2 provides a rather ironic documentation of Ontario’s disappearing heritage, for reasons we’ll get into shortly.

Truth be told, there isn’t a lot of 416 action to be seen here, though they did use local studio space. It’s one of those flicks that’s a bit more of a “Reel GTA.” Hamilton, for example, gets a nice workout, starting with the opening where a mom follows her kid under this tunnel…

…to the Devil’s Punchbowl. Did you know Hamilton is “The City of Waterfalls?” Well, it is.

These creepy school shots were filmed in the historic Alma College, in nearby St. Thomas

before it burned down.

Speaking of abandoned heritage buildings, this hotel, both outside…

…and in…

…is actually downtown Hamilton’s Lister Block, which, since the shoot, has been renovated completely.

At the end of the sequence, they burst out of the Lister Block exterior, onto King William Street.

One of the more interesting and chilling bits is when you see this abandoned downtown. It’s actually Wayne Gretzky’s hometown, Brantford. It looks like there was quite a local hullaballoo during the shooting, so there’s a fair amount of behind the scenes stuff out there.

Basically, Brantford’s historic core was falling apart, so they let the film crew use it before doing a major makeover (which is to say, they demolished a series of heritage buildings). This is at the corner of Colborne and Queen Streets.

This shop used to be at 129 Colborne. Not anymore.

Well, it ain’t pretty, but at least heritage fans have this all documented. What was once the longest stretch of pre-Confederation buildings in Canada, and a burned down school, and a salvaged office building will forever be part of… Silent Hill.