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Silent Hill: Revelation Review: You Dream About A Place Called Silent Hill. I Dream About A Movie That Doesn't Suck.

By TK | Film Reviews | October 29, 2012 | Comments ()


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There are few film genres more maligned than the dreaded video game genre. Hollywood keeps pumping out more and more adaptations, and it's rare that any of them are worth the price of a ticket. There are two notable (and admittedly contested) exceptions: The enjoyable bit of zombie eye candy Resident Evil, and 2006's Silent Hill. The original Silent Hill, based on the Konami survival horror games, was a far from perfect film, but it gained popularity thanks to some truly gorgeous visuals courtesy of director Christophe Gans, an intense and dread-laden atmosphere, and some solid performances from Radha Mitchell and Laurie Holden.

Which of course led to a sequel, Silent Hill: Revelation. The sequel is off to a bad start before the reel even starts to roll -- gone is the original director, Christophe Gans, a man renowned for his ability to disturb and terrify audiences, even if his skills are uneven. He is replaced by Michael J. Bassett, ignominiously known for directing the abysmally dull Solomon Kane. Gone also is Laurie Holden, who (spoiler!) died in the original, and Radha Mitchell, who is in the sequel for roughly 90 seconds. Returning is Sean Bean as the hapless and distraught Harry, who is desperately trying to keep his now-grown daughter Sharon (Adelaide Clemens) from becoming ensnared in the nightmarish pull of the town of Silent Hill.

So we're left with Harry and Sharon, moving from town to town, never settling, as Sharon is plagued by nightmares where she is incinerated by the sinister Alessa, the terrifying young girl from the first film. Sharon avoids the other kids at school, though is eventually worn down by the charming and persistent Vincent (Kit Harrington, featuring an extremely dodgy American accent). After several twisted, grotesque visions one day, Harry disappears and Sharon and Vincent are drawn back to Silent Hill to find the answers to Harry's disappearance as well as Sharon's mysterious past.

The rest of the story is boilerplate video game gobbledygook. I don't mean that as a knock on video games per se, but rather on the lazy plotting and garbled mythologies that lesser games become dependent on. The film is an utterly tiresome and uninteresting exercise, lacking everything that made the first film remotely engaging. The story is sluggish at best -- Sharon is magically connected to Silent Hill and to the powerful and demonic Alessa, yet there's no mystery to the entire affair. Thanks to a shameful, ham-fisted exposition dump during their drive to the town, we learn almost everything we need to know about Sharon and her connection to Alessa save for one critical piece of information -- that we learn in another badly scripted dump roughly 15 minutes later thanks to an encounter with Dahlia (Deborah Kara Unger), Alessa's wraithlike weirdo mother.

It's not helped by the fact that the actors are all underperforming to the best of their abilities. Bean's accent is all over the map and his beleaguered dad is utterly lacking in appeal or sympathy. The earnestness and fiery emotion that makes Harrington so riveting in "Game of Thrones" is undone by a constantly rotating series of vacuous expressions and leaden line delivery. Adelaide Clemens has the look of Sharon nailed, but her performance is so trite and eyeroll-inducing that her spiffy costuming isn't worth a damn. The best I can offer is that Carrie Ann-Moss's Claudia, the eeeeevil leader of Silent Hill's pagan dullards, seems to be reveling in her eeeeevilness and may well be the only person enjoying themselves. Oh, and Malcolm McDowell's manic, lunatic three-minute paycheck performance that he probably wasn't even conscious for.

That said, even the best actors in the world couldn't salvage what is some truly awful writing and dialogue that is, unbelievably, far worse than that of the video game -- or any video game. Seriously, Bassett also wrote the screenplay and he apparently just set the Cliche-O-Meter 5000 to "horror movie," hit Print, and moved on to special effects.

Speaking of effects... well, they're there. In fact, they're all there is. The first Silent Hill used disturbing imagery intermittently alongside intricate set pieces and ghostly, atmospheric cinematography, thereby giving it more punch. Taking no lessons from that, Bassett bombards the viewer with CGI nasties and set pieces so much that they lose their effect after about 15 minutes. What made the original -- and the games -- so effective was the juxtaposition of these awful, bizarre monstrosities against the real world, creating a disparate dichotomy that made the visuals that much more striking. Bassett opts to make Silent Hill a nonstop parade of poorly rendered grotesquerie, never pausing to give any kind of frame of reference, and instead of creating any sense of mood or atmosphere, he lamely settles for excessive CGI, a preponderance of jump scares and 3D effects that... well, the best I can say about the 3D is that it's not distracting. Damn faint praise, I know. When coupled with the stolid, suffocating plotting and the hideously bland dialogue, the film simply has nowhere to go.

Silent Hill was a solid, if not-too-memorable little film that featured some enjoyable characters, a genuinely unsettling ambiance and an overwhelming sense of dread. Unfortunately, Silent Hill: Revelation did the very opposite, giving us bland, unexciting characters, overbearing and underwhelming set pieces, and in the end is just plain dreadful.


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Jeff Amador

    what is the point of putting "SPOILER" one word before the offending-spoiler? do you think that our eyes don't see that the next word is "died?" i'm not complaining about the actual spoiler, but if you ARE going to warn about spoilers, at least warn with enough advance so that the spoiler can actually be avoided.

  • I've been trying to convince myself to go see this -- Pyramid Head is one of my favorite villain types and two GOT cast members! -- but this review shot it straight in the foot. And for very good reasons, too. I can't tell you how grating the commercial's been with the girl screaming, "GO TO HELL." It's unnecessarily loud, too, like when your TV suddenly shoots up 20 volume notches for a show on the USA Network (seriously, what the hell?) or a local commercial.

    I'm not sure why a sequel needed to be made, especially when the protagonist has what I'm assuming is a threadbare introduction. I'm guessing it was a "yeah .. like, my dad like, remarried and stuff" to explain why the girl (I seriously forgot her name throughout the entire review and while writing this comment) was suddenly around for this movie, but not the first one.

    I'll just dig through Mr. DaC's horror movie stash for Silent Hill and watch it instead of shelling out the moola and time for this.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Wait. Wait! WAIT! Sean Bean survived in the original?That alone is a harbinger of crap.

  • Groundloop

    If memory serves, in Silent Hill, Beans character never encounters any of the beasties, so no addition to the death reel. Though he does an awful lot of high speed driving at night in rainstorms. You'd figure that would be good for at least a separated shoulder and some facial lacerations.

  • Zirza

    Adelaide Clemens was good in Parade's End.

    See? Benedict Cumberbatch really does make things better.

  • RedMachine

    Excellent review. Not only are you spot on in your assessment of the movie, but rather than simply stating that it's not a good movie-- not successful in what it sets out to accomplish, you actually get to the heart of WHY the movie doesn't work-- which shows that you understand the games and the first movie. You are the first reviewer of this movie I've come across to have successfully analyzed and critiqued "SH:R." I appreciate that, since I've been trying to pinpoint for myself since I saw this on Friday the exact reasons I felt so underwhelmed.

    One other thing missing from this movie that the first "SH" nailed is the sense of melancholy I've always felt from the Silent Hill games. After all, these games (the first 3 mostly) are about the search for a loved one and the acceptance of truth about traumatic experiences-- situations rife with sadness. I'm a sucker for melancholy, and I've always felt that it was that emotion that tempered the horror aspect of Silent Hill and gave the games their unique perspective, beyond the "kill and avoid being killed" aspect of other survival horror.

    The first movie played this aspect quite well, especially in the scenes where Radha Mitchell and Sean Bean were in the same place at the same time, but different dimensions (the final scene, with Sean Bean at home, feeling the presence of his wife and daughter, one of my favorite scenes of all time). It's just too bad that director Bassett chose spectacle over genuine emotion.

    Plus, let's not forget that the first movie had some Tig Trager going for it (Kim Coates rules!).

  • BWeaves

    Sean Bean's in a movie where the stars get killed in the first 90 seconds? Let me guess what happens next.

  • Jezzer

    But when does Sharon find out she's Michelle Williams?

  • Blake

    I would have said "But when does Sharon find out she's Carey Mulligan?" She is lovely though.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    The conflict arises because Carey Mulligan still hasn't been informed that she is in fact just the never-smiling aspect of Michelle Williams' personality.

  • Robert

    Great review. What I will point out is that the only CGI monster in the film is the mannequin spider. Everything else is real actors in monster costumes. They even got the same stuntman from the first film to return as Pyramid Head. Obviously, the sets are layered with tons of CGI, but the creatures are almost all done with practical effects.

  • thatsjesstastic!

    The boyfriend and I left the theater with an overwhelming feeling of 'meh'. I was really excited to see it, given that Silent Hill 3 is one of my favorite games that I still can't play it late at night or alone. I did appreciate a few scenes that were probably there to appease the game's fans...the mannequin store room scene comes to mind. However, those subtle nods to the game franchise seemed pretty empty to anyone else. Overall I have to agree with the review. It was pretty disappointing.

    3D ash was cool, though.

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