Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Silent Hill: Revelation (3D)

There Are Many Silent Hills.
- Leonard Wolfe
The Silent Introduction. (A Look Back At Silent Hill)
Let me start this review by admitting to a few things:
  1. Yes, I am a Fan of the Silent Hill games.
  2. Yes, I believe that Silent Hill 2 was the best instalment in the series.
  3. No, I am not one of those fans that gets annoyed with each new instalment because its not Silent Hill 2 again.
That said I will try to avoid going on and on about the game series and instead narrow my aim to this movie and the one proceeding it, so lets delve into the darkness that is "Silent Hill: Revelations".

Released in 2012 "Silent Hill: Revelation" continues the story set up in Christopher Gan's 2006 movie "Silent Hill" followed Rose (Radha Mitchell) and Chris (Sean Bean) Da Silver (why not named Mason I will never know) who's adoptive daughter Sharon was plagued nightmares of the town of Silent Hill leading Rose to decide that the best course of action is to take her daughter to the place she seemed terrified of without stopping to inform her Husband. Gripping scenes of Sean Bean wandering about in search of plot shortly ensued.

Silent Hill was far from awful and yet the problem was that for every positive step the movie would take will also take a negative one.
It managed to encapsulate the look, sound and feel to Silent Hill perfectly and the designs of the creatures seemed to have been effortlessly lifted from the games; Rose and Cybil's encounter with the Lying Figure from Silent Hill 2 (The guy with no arms) really nails the mood and atmosphere of the games.

Yet the plot is incoherent, abandoning the premise of the game and blaming it all on witches (I'm not even joking). 
Sean Bean who would have been brilliantly cast as the first games protagonist Harry Mason is dropped for Radha Mitchell's Rose solely for the purpose of including a line about "Mother being God in the eyes of a child" that appears twice throughout the film, this leaves Sean Bean trailing behind the plot for the entire movie breaking the flow of the narrative and spoiling all tension as he recaps thing we just witnessed (His original role being simply to appear at the beginning and ending of the film, but the studio pushed for his role to be greatly expanded due to lack of a male presence). 

But the most unforgivable sin the movie commits (I can forgive Pyramid Head, The Lying Man and the Nurses making an appearance even though they're are a product of James Sunderland's subconsciousness and therefore specific enemies to him alone and consequently have no reason to appear - Sorry, Silent Hill 2 pride) is that it is boring, the film plays out with Rose travelling to a different  location, encountering a new creature before running away to the next area to repeat the cycle which fails to be scary on any real level (And Witches Really?).

Now despite my raging here I actually don't hate this movie, I am simply disappointed in it due it getting the key elements to making possibly the first ever good Video Game movie correct and tripping on the simple stuff.

So now 6 years later we have a new instalment "Silent Hill: Revelation" Written and Directed by Michael J. Bassett which follows the plot of fan favourite 2003 video games Silent Hill 3 which seer's Sharon now known as Heather and her farther Christopher now known as Harry eight years following the events of Silent Hill in hiding with from The Cult known as The Order who want to lure Heather back to the dark town.

The Silent Story. (The Plot)
"Silent Hill" which saw Rose and Sharon trapped in the Fog Dimension of Silent Hill while Chris (Still in the normal world) return home following his failure to find either his family or the plot, revealing that they were both in different dimensions.
Set Eight years after these events "Revelation" reveals that Rose was able to contact Chris and through the use of the "Seal of Metatron" was able to send Sharon alone home, leaving herself trapped in the Otherworld, She also warned Chris that "The Order" would come looking for Sharon in order to take her back to Silent Hill as she was essential to their plans of birthing a God that would wipe the world clean.

From here on in the Witch angle from the first film is pretty much completely dropped (Thank God) receiving the odd mention but otherwise the film instead attempts to closely follow the events and plot of the game (The whole Witch element in the first movie annoyed me as the film is taking the established Silent Hill story deeming it implausible and replacing it with something even more ridiculous - The games UFO Endings made more sense).

The film doesn't so much alter elements from the first film as ignore them entirely and hopes you do the same.

 Here are several examples -
  • The cults beliefs and motives have not only changed but they are almost completely opposed to the ones they held but a film ago.
  • Sharon's age at the time of "Silent Hill" is upped from 8 to 11.
  • The fractured elements of Alessa recombined inside the church during the end of Silent Hill but are now split again.
  • Apparently a large group of cult members survived the finale despite their only sanctuary being infiltrated and destroyed. 
  • Due to the fact that Claudia is Dahlia's Sister who is Mother of Alessa and Vincent is Claudia's son that makes Heather and Vincent cousins, this is corrected by altering the origin of Sharron that was mentioned in the previous instalment. 
Not such a great start continuity wise. 

The Silent Souls. (The Cast)
The Cast is headed by Adelaide Clemens as Heather Mason/Sharon Da Silver, Clemens (in her first major role) delivers a strong performance as almost 18 year old Heather as she struggles to come to terms with just who she really is, even while she is given little to work with early on in the film beyond the "Am I losing my mind?" element of her character that comes with almost all protagonists in these types of films, But Clemens gives a strong performance and you cant help but root for her as a character.

Sean Bean's Christopher (Although he actually gets to become Harry Mason now due to hiding his identity, yet his character more closely resembles James Sunderland) gets the chance he was denied last time around taking up an actual lead role in the movie this time with his absence being key to the plot rather than a tacked on element.
While his American accent is just awful he is still an engaging and likable character who is willing to go to any length to protect his daughter, wanting a normal life for her all the wile plagued by the fear of her connection to the town of Silent Hill.  

While it is good to see Radha Mitchell's Rose return for Revelations her role is limited to blatant plot explanation and Radha seems to show no interest in the role whatsoever, not so much performing her role as coldly reading out dialogue and in truth its hard to blame her Rose goes from the main character of the first film to a foot note in this one.

The role of Villain falls to Carrie-Anne Moss this time around as Claudia Wolf leader of "The Order" cult and sister to Christabella from the first film with her role very much limited to a "I am the Villain" capacity with her character stating her desire to destroy and reshape the world but never delving into the reasons why.
In fact the whole God Birthing ritual is not addressed very well the Why? to the How? remaining a mystery with all that the audience knowing is that it requires Heather. 

While Vincent portrayed by Kit Harrington is another character who's role differs massively from his game counterpart taking much of Douglas's position throughout the film. His character has his own "Big Reveal" moment which comes as no surprise to anyone and then is quickly forgotten about, but he is likable enough as Heather's Assistant/Love interest . 

Private Investigator Douglas Cartland (Martin Donovan) makes an appearance but with his involvement largely reduced from the game in order to allow for Vincent to take his role he is quickly forgotten about with even a plot issue he raises going unresolved by the end of the film.

Dahlia (Deborah Kara Unger) is also back.. for a scene, In fact I actually forgot she was in Revelations at all, with her appearance once again being limited to mumbling some brief exposition before disappearing entirely (why include these characters at all if you're not going to use them effectively?).
In fact many of Revelation's characters roles are just for exposition, appearing revealing elements of the plot before disappearing with little left to do with the rest of the movie. 

The Silent Spider. (Analyzing a Scene from Revelation) 
The problem with Revelation can be summed up in a single scene: The Mannequin.
Taking shelter from Silent Hill's decent into the Otherworld Heather takes refuse in a storeroom full of old mannequins  where she realize that she is not as alone as she thought.   
Now this scene could have been incredibly scary with Heather exploring the seemingly deserted room while the Mannequins subtly move in the background, little by little in order to build suspense before a sudden and terrifying reveal, instead the scene follows Heather as she comes across a mannequin with eyes that move (straight away, Bye any sense of suspense!) then she comes across a naked woman who then turns into a mannequin (Why? I have no idea) before ultimately discovering another woman cocooned in plastic by a CGI Spider-Mannequin creature that looked just terrible (and the woman's sole purpose is to be killed off by the mannequin and never mentioned again)
The CGI! Fear The CGI!!!
and so the problem with Revelations is that it drops any essence of subtly or suspense and rushes into the big 3D CGI monster reveal but what are you supposed  to fear from a goofy looking CGI spider? (For the last time people, 3D is not scary!!)
And this scene like all of the monster confrontations in this film resolves far too suddenly, leaving the scene feeling like it was cut short before the climax.

The Silent Sinners. (The Creature Designs of Revelation)
Where as the creatures from the previous instalment were one of the films saving graces looking identical to their game origins while both intriguing and disturbing the only four new monsters introduced in this new instalments are the Mannequin seen above, The Missionary who looks more like a S&M demon than its creepy shuffling, bag headed counterpart.

Lady Ga Ga's New Music Video
Leonard Wolf who obviously was not overly memorable as I seem to have completely forgotten what it looked like and Memories of Alessa the dark alter-ego of Heather that controls Silent Hill and all these new monster look laughable at best with special mention going to Disc-Head the Missionary who look like a low budget fan film monster rather than a big-budget movie creation and that is a big problem for the film as it is focusing on Monster attacks rather than building atmosphere only to have the monster reveal to look goofy.

The Nurses make a reappearance along with the Lying Figure (Albeit only for little more than a single shot). Pyramid Head also reappears (Obviously) but at least the film gives an excuse for his appearance this time around beyond the "fan service" inclusion last time (his role is still solely for Fan-Service but they do sneak a reason into the plot).

The Silent Dimension. (Scenes Filmed For 3D Not In 3D)
The problem with 3D films once released onto 2D discs is that many of the moments that were specifically shot for the use of 3D appear out of place within the rest of the film, with most of these moments relying on slow-motion to heighten the effects so that without the use of 3D the severed fingers flying at you this really slows the pace of the film, this problem is encountered in many other 3D horror films with the most notable exception being "Resident Evil: Afterlife" which had so many 3D slow motion shots that watching it on DVD or Blu-Ray is almost unbearable (Not that it was easy watching to begin with: Awful, Awful Movie). 

The Silent Salvation. (Saving Graces and Conclusion)
There are an abundance of references to the games from the Red Shoe that can be seen in the hotel room (Jack's Inn, specifically room 106), the Happy Burger restaurant, the iconic pipe makes its appearance, the barbecued dog can be seen, Robbie the Rabbit can be spotted numerous times throughout the film and the Map that Heather looks at in Brookhaven Asylum being the actual in-game map from Brookhaven Hospital.
Even the ending makes allusions to other Silent Hill stories in which Travis (From "Origins") makes a cameo and the Prison Convoy from Silent Hill Downpour can be seen, these small references are enjoyable to watch out for throughout the movie while never being forced into the uninitiated viewers face.

The film does have its merits Adelaide Clemens and Sean Bean do their best with what they have to work with, The carousel sequence while a little short e-captures the feeling from the game but unfortunately the plot is a mess ignoring elements from is predecessor (You set it up now you have to live with it) and fails to have a single sequence that I would deem scary, although the film is not boring so it has the first instalment beat in that aspect.
While Revelation is not terrible (It is still a master piece compared to the "Resident Evil" movies) I cant help but be disappointed, disappointed as a Silent Hill fan, disappointed as a Horror Movie Fan, disappointed as a fan of Creature Design, But most of all disappointed in myself for expecting better.  


  1. Fantastic read ant :-) xx

  2. Thank you for writing this so I don't have to put myself through watching it now! A well written piece!