I love horror movies. That’s just a fact. If you follow any of my writings or reviews, I put myself through some trying titles along my quest for horror greatness, and encounter numerous bumps along the way. It’s impossible not to find a film lacking substance, drive, or cohesive storytelling now and then, usually through Hollywood’s mis-conception of true horror, but most of these duds come via Video On Demand watches, which I torture myself with frequently.
This time though, I found a real stinker gaining a nation-wide full release, feeling cheated for watching a film so atrociously horrible, even if I paid $0 for the experience.
Silent Hill: Revelation, I’m utterly shocked by your poor showing. I mean, a horror sequel spanwed from a laboriously mediocre video game adaptation releasing around Halloween for optimal marketing? What could go wrong!?
I’ll get to that later. Let’s start out on a positive note though, as I rather like the performances of leads Adelaide Clemens and Kit Harington.
Clemens plays main character Heather Mason, a young girl being beckoned to an alternate world in a town named Silent Hill, where her kidnapped father is assumedly hidden. She faces off against a host of cultists and demons all with an agenda on hand, and Clemens takes each spook and hurdle in stride while appearing in virtually every scene. Our spunky little survivor girl plays a strong comparison to her character in the Silent Hill video game franchise, and was a rather solid and welcome fit for her role in the film adaptation.
Kit Harington does a swell enough job with what he’s given as well, but the character of Vincent was altered from his original persona in Silent Hill 3. This is where writer/director Michael J. Bassett started going off the rails in my mind, changing Vincent from his snarky and ambiguous lineage in Silent Hill 3, acting more as a guide for Heather, to playing a larger role in Heather’s life yet existing on a lesser scale on screen. Bassett’s interpretation of Vincent is rather bland and recycled, as he tries to add an element of human emotion which didn’t help his film in the least, but instead turns Vincent into a replaceable male character with no unique or intriguing attraction.
You know what else didn’t help Silent Hill: Revelation? Pretty much everything. Holy moly, where do I start? Let’s go with the abysmal story which tries to justify all rational with the word “because.” Seriously.
“Heather, why do you have to go to Silent Hill!”
“BECAUSE I HAVE TO.”
“But why, Heather?”
I can’t stand a film that hurdles forward without taking time to seriously hash out any of the actions that just occurred, and Bassett is a huge offender of this feeling.
But if terrible story work wasn’t bad enough, some of the dialogue was just as atrocious, being that special type of terrible horror conversation work some of the most excruciating genre films are known for. Mindless dialoge, zero explanations, failed source re-working – Silent Hill: Revelation felt like it was created with the assumption every single audience member has a clear knowledge of the game that inspired Bassett’s film, Silent Hill 3, but then went down its own path anyway.
Not only was some of the worst horror writing of the year on display, but we’re also presented one of the most anti-climactic endings of the year as well.
The town of Silent Hill is terrorized by a girl named Alessa, a demon child who survived being burned alive and is none to happy about it. Alessa opens a gate to another world, enveloping the small town in an alternate reality of horrors and darkness. Protected by a beefy sword-wielding guardian known iconically as Pyramid Head, Alessa is the main antagonist Heather has to face in her search for Papa Mason (Sean Bean). Cult leader Claudia Wolf (Carrie-Ann Moss) also presents herself as a negative human presence, leading the cultists against the innocent girl snooping around her town, but Alessa is the root of all evils.
By the way, spoiler alert for the next paragraph if you want zero details walking into this film.
So why is it that when Heather finally confronts Alessa on a fiery carnival ride from hell, the “showdown” is over in a matter of seconds? Here’s a malevolent force who is followed by clouds of terror, desecrating anything in her path, with abilities like conjuring fire and demons, and this blonde chick just walks in and it’s over? I get the implications of what happens, and I’m not getting into it because that would spoil the meat of what enjoyable script material there is, but even addressing that, Alessa and Heather’s confrontation exists amongst the lowest of climaxes. Silent Hill 3 outshines Silent Hill: Revelation in almost every way, showing a better grasp of story and horror than Bassett’s film does, and that’s coming from a video game made in 2003.
It’s a shame too, because all the discombobulation amongst our story detracts from some of the eerie set pieces production and the special effects team were able to create.
The entire Silent Hill game franchise is known for an insanely creepy atmosphere, ascending to the top of survival horror recognition. From a heart pounding mood to anxiety inducing pacing, players would creep hesitantly around the shadows, if they could muster the courage. Silent Hill: Revelation does a nice job pulling us into the terrifying world of Silent Hill, sticking true to what I like to call “human straight jacket” monsters and those dimly lit and darkly colored run down industrial locations. Stitched up faces and bloody motion-sensor nurses were a nice touch, but all those visual indulgences were wasted on such a lost film.
Silent Hill: Revelation suffers the same doomed fate as most modern horror movies, bumbling through a shockingly disconnected screenplay which strings together moments that could have been salvaged otherwise. I kept having to remind myself Heather was in Silent Hill ultimately looking for her father, a central motivation which sloppy scripting deals with on an epically inept scale, confusing Heather’s journey along with revealing such obvious cinematic faults like a bright red highlighter.
Despite actors who put mountains of effort into saving some bit of integrity in Bassett’s film, no amount of Adelaide Clemens’, Kit Haringtons, Sean Beans, or Marlon freaking Brandos could have made Silent Hill: Revelation into a cohesive treat.
This Halloween we’re gifted another video game feature film which is nothing but a sickening, deceptive trick from hell. Don’t be fooled yourself.