Review: 'Silent Hill: Revelation' Does Nothing to Elevate the Franchise
by Jeremy Kirk
October 26, 2012
It takes a movie like Silent Hill: Revelation to appreciate movies like its predecessor. Silent Hill was bathed in atmosphere and even if its screenplay hit shaky ground now and again, there was always Christophe Gans' video-game-based tone and creative creature designs to fall back on. The sequel has none of that, offering a lazy narrative worthy of a straight-to-DVD title and exposition with every turn of the script's page. Not even the monsters, blase at best this time around, deliver cheap thrills, and the only atmosphere new writer/director Michael J. Bassett ends up creating is one of lameness and boredom.
That lazy narrative finds us a number of years after the events of Silent Hill. Between films, Sharon's mother has found a way to get her out of the strange town where demons mutilate human beings and a strange cult is trapped by an evil presence. Good thing she got out of there, but now Sharon and her father find themselves on the run. She's changed her name to Heather, and her father, played once again by Sean Bean, has moved her from location to location, always struggling to keep his daughter away from the Silent Hill cult. They want Heather or Sharon or whatever her name is to complete a ritual that will set them free, and now they've taken Heather's father to ensure the girl's return.
This premise reads flimsy, because it is flimsy. Bassett's screenplay takes its sweet time picking up any momentum and more often than not relies on quick flashes of creepy imagery or gigantic chunks of exposition. Everyone Heather comes in contact with has a vital piece of information for her regarding the town or its residents, and all of that information comes to the detriment of overall pacing. The first Silent Hill was over two hours long, but even that was simpler and smoother than this 95-minute movie. Bassett doesn't seem to understand how to explain things while also moving the story along or during a sequence of high intensity, so the film grinds to a shrieking halt every time it decides it wants to explain something.
The "horrific" imagery can't save Silent Hill: Revelation, either. Bassett and his team of creature designers like the globby forms who move all herky jerky and usually look like they have vaginas for faces. That's a visual seen time after time after time in this film, pretty much every time Heather has one of her visions of the town or even walks down a dark hallway. None of it comes off as terrifying or even remotely frightening, and the one, interesting creature in the film, a spider made up of mannequin parts, is undercut by painfully obvious CGI. Not even Pyramid Head, essentially the face of horror in these movies a la Pinhead or Leatherface, brings any kind of genuine suspense to the film, since he's mostly left to spin a wheel that turns a Merry-Go-Round. Bassett doesn't even seem to know how to use what's already been created for him.
As the story progresses, it becomes more and more weighed down by ridiculous twists and perplexing "revelations." At a certain point in the film all hell seems to break loose, and things just start happening for no discernible reason. Bassett, always ready with the exposition, handles the confusion by having his character spout out exactly what's going on and why. Thank you for telling me the story of Silent Hill, Silent Hill: Revelation, because I certainly didn't sit down to watch the movie or anything.
The acting is pretty much on par with your typical DVD rental, as well, with Adelaide Clemens taking the lead reigns as Heather/Sharon/demon girl. Neither she nor any of her notably known cast members (including Kit Harrington from "Game of Thrones") provide anything of interest. The most remarkable aspect about Silent Hill: Revelation's cast is that it includes Deborah Kara Unger, Malcolm McDowell (above), and Carrie-Anne Moss all apparently giving up an afternoon to film their respective parts. None of them are in the movie for more than 60 seconds each, and McDowell's role is so glaringly pointless that the man's name is surely the only reason it wasn't dropped on the editing room floor. That's not even the grossest example of meaningless plot points.
The Silent Hill video games always seemed vague enough that plopping characters into the atmospheric setting could always be the starting point of an interesting mystery narrative, but that would require filmmakers who want to devise something inventive or, God forbid, entertaining. Silent Hill: Revelation is neither, the one task it seems to accomplish being that it shows how creepy, intense, and effective the first Silent Hill movie was. That's about the opposite of what one is supposed to do with a sequel to a property such as this. Unfortunately, Michael J. Bassett wasn't up to the task of giving us an interesting or scary Silent Hill movie. At this point, we're not even sure a third chance at it is worth taking.
Jeremy's Rating: 2 out of 10