Review: Silent Hill Revelation

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Silent Hill: Revelation 3D

Warning: The following review contains spoilers for both Silent Hill and Silent Hill Revelations 3D

Sometimes I miss the days when I wasn’t the jaded, weary horror fan that I’ve become. The days when I could dream about the possibilities of how awesome a Resident Evil movie would be, or when I could actually believe that Hollywood actually gave a damn about trying to produce good films.

Now, I brought up Resident Evil for a reason.  When it hit the Playstation back in 1996 it was amazing, featuring a full motion introduction, voice over in cut scenes, an awesome story (despite some dreadful dialogue) and truly scary moments.

Of course, realistically speaking, the first Resident Evil game is practically a joke now, with it’s horribly dated graphics and heinous controls, it’s a wonder anyone got any enjoyment out of it in the first place, but we did, because the game was creepy as hell and despite having controls that were nightmare inducing, Resident Evil went on to spawn sequels and spin offs to this day, and of course a painfully dumb movie series.

The problems with the movies are numerous, (and frankly not relevant to this review), however the most common complaint from fans of the games was that the first film completely rejected the plot of the original Resident Evil in favor of a bad action script.  All the scares and creepy elements that prevailed in the original story were gone and replaced with a rather dull action story.

So the question was, what would be the next horror video game to get butchered….I mean “Adapted” to the big screen? Alone in the Dark and House of the Dead were both train wrecks thanks to Uwe Boll, and then in 2006, Silent Hill dropped out of nowhere.

While Silent Hill was a financial success, critics panned it and fans of the games screamed bloody murder.

I, having never played any of the original Silent Hill games and having little more than a passing knowledge of the story lines of the games and the universe, actually really enjoyed the original. It managed to bring all the recognizable visual elements from the game into a cinematic universe that felt real and told relatively straight forward story.

Fast forward six years and suddenly there’s a sequel in the works entitled Silent Hill: Revelation 3D. While I wanted to optimistic about this, there were two obvious red flags that struck me when I started to see news stories about this film. First was of course that the sequel had initially been announced at the end of 2006, and it was finally coming out in 2012, and second of course was the addition of 3D.

Say what you will about 3D, but its becoming a good indicator of how a studio feels about a films chances of making money. Sure, they can release the family and kids films in 3D with no problem, but when you see it slapped onto PG-13 and up rated films, its not a good sign.

So I held my judgment, I wanted to see another Silent Hill and now I would be getting one.

And then the reviews started rolling in. While I typically avoid “Mainstream” critical reviews of horror films, it seemed like Silent Hill 2 was getting slammed by everyone, horror sites included.

I sat out the theatrical run and decided I could wait for DVD, as the 3D wasn’t that important to me.

And boy am I glad I did.

Quick plot synopsis via IMDB:

When her father disappears, Heather Mason is drawn into a strange and terrifying alternate reality that holds answers to the horrific nightmares that have plagued her since childhood.

Jesus. Jump Roping. Christ. What a fucking mess.

Let’s just get right into this madness. Sean Bean is back, reprising his role from the original Silent Hill but now under the name “Harry”. Why? Because his daughter “Heather”(Adelaide Clemens) is really Sharon, now almost eighteen years old. But wait, wasn’t Sharon trapped in Silent Hill with Rose at the end of the original?

Yes. Yes she was. And how do we solve this problem?

ONE SCENE. ONE FUCKING SCENE.

Rose (once again played by Radha Mitchell) appears to Chris (now Harry) in a mirror and explains that she’s still trapped in Silent Hill, but that he has to take care of Sharon. Also there’s some kind of magical maguffin involved that wasn’t involved in the original film, but somehow Rose found it and figured out how to activate it and get Sharon out but not herself.

I wish I was kidding.

From here, “Heather” heads off to school and meets Douglas (Martin Donovan), a private investigator whose been sent to find Heather and her father. Apparently Chris murdered someone in another town, but we’ll find out about that later.

Heather then has one of the worst monologues in her science class, catching the interest of Vincent (Kit Harington) who is coincidentally also a new kid in school.

Heather has visions of Silent Hill’s reality bleeding over into our own, but has no idea what is going as she has no recollection of the events of the first film or that she’s really the good half of Alessa.

It’s about this time that the plot begins to unravel. Douglas gets killed by a Silent Hill creature in a mall, despite previously only Heather being able to see the creatures, and Harry is kidnapped by someone (later revealed to be involved with the cult). Heather finds the message “Come to Silent Hill” written in blood on the wall of her home along with a symbol that matches the maguffin.

We get an info dump here as Heather and Vincent go through a wooden box filled with papers and drawings Heather has done with the name Silent Hill written on them, and she takes the maguffin, a gun and a letter from her father, reminding us of who Heather really is.

Vincent of course comes from Silent Hill and has been sent to bring Heather/Sharon/Alessa back to the town to be sacrificed by Claudia Wolf (Carrie Anne Moss looking bored out of her mind), but has a change of heart and then disappears, leaving Heather to go into town on her own.

Dahlia (Deborah Kara Unger) returns and gives us another info dump, recapping THE ENTIRE ALESSA STORY FROM THE FIRST MOVIE to Heather when she finally arrives in Silent Hill.

I can’t really explain any more of the plot to you at this point because it goes completely off the fucking rails from here on out. Silent Hill: Revelations is terrible. The script is awful, not only because the story is convoluted and hard to follow, but it also features some horrible dialogue. Nothing really makes sense; the rules set down in the original film are thrown out the window for no real reason, and while the film looks similar to its predecessor, it never quite evokes the same atmosphere.

Sean Bean, Carrie Ann Moss, Deborah Unger and Malcolm McDowell are all wasted here, either looking bored, or in McDowell’s case, chewing scenery like there’s no tomorrow, while Clemens is the only one who actually does a decent job, considering what she’s been given to work with, and her scene toward the end of the film where she faces off against the gothy “Evil Alessa” is pretty good, and one of the few moments where the film was actually coherent.

Did you like Pyramid Head from the original? Good because he’s back in this one, but he doesn’t do much, his scenes evoking nothing but apathy, including his final battle scene with the transformed demonic Claudia who looks like she belongs in a Hellraiser sequel and not Silent Hill. How about the nurses? Did you like the creepy nurses, because they’re back too, but this is one of the most obvious moments in the film where writer/director Michael J Bassett throws out the rules set down in the original film. The nurses reacted to light in the first film, but this time we see them in an operating room bathed in light, they aren’t moving until a pair of goons in miner outfits, which look cheap and bear little resemblance to the ones from the original, roll in with Vincent strapped to a gurney, leading to a scene where the nurses hack the two goons to shit for no apparent reason.

If, as the film tells us, these men are the most devout of the cult, and they wear the miner outfits to protect against “The Darkness”, why in the fuck would they not run away when confronted by the nurses?

Don’t bother trying to apply logic to Silent Hill: Revelation 3D because it’s a world where logic doesn’t exist, and has no actual internal rules. Everything we learned about the town of Silent Hill from the original film has been cast aside for a “Fuck you that’s why” rule from the director.

Now before the waves of hatred flow from the Silent Hill game fans who want to scream that I just didn’t “Get It”, I watched this film with my best friend (a huge Silent Hill nerd) and my girlfriend. She and I had only seen the first film, and while my friend tried to justify every problem this movie had with “Well, in the game” and an explanation of why the thing that was happening that made zero sense actually did make sense, I’d like to explain my case for why the “In the game….” defense DOES NOT make this a good film, or alleviate the mountain of problems involved.

The Avengers was a huge hit last summer and made an obscene amount of money. Does anyone actually think all that money came from just people who read Avengers comics? Of course not, but laying aside all the hype surrounding it, The Avengers, like any good adaptation worked because it balanced enough elements for the fans who read the comics or have read the comics, while also telling a clear enough (albeit incredibly simple and a tad boring) story for the people who only knew these characters from their solo films.

And while I’m not one to turn down an adaptation that caters to the fans of the source material, there is a place for those types of films, and it’s the direct to DVD market. Ask any fan of the Resident Evil games what they think of the CG animated films Resident Evil: Degeneration or Resident Evil: Damnation and you’ll probably get a much more positive response from them than if you ask the same question about the theatrically released Resident Evil films. Now if you ask the average person who has never played Resident Evil or say…Final Fantasy VII about their thoughts on either of the previously mentioned RE films or Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, they’ll probably complain about the plot not being completely clear, because these films rely heavily on a knowledge of the game universes they are based on.

Which is why Silent Hill: Revelation 3D is such a massive failure, aside from the painfully bad dialogue, uninspired acting, dodgy CG and convoluted storyline and lack of a coherent set of universe rules, it relies entirely too heavily on a broad knowledge of the video game universe from which the series is based, and while that may appeal to die hard fans of the games, the average horror fan, or even movie goer who enjoyed the original Silent Hill is being left with a nonsensical mess of a film.

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