"Silent Hill: Revelation" sounds like a terrible film on paper. It's based on a video game, and as we know, they have yet to make a good video game movie. To make matters worse, it's a sequel, seemingly made to cash in on whatever name recognition the games and the mostly forgotten 2006 theatrical adaptation may have. Oh, and it's in 3-D.
Unfortunately, the second "Silent Hill" plays like a terrible film on screen as well. Fans of the games may be happy to see their favorite demon monstrosities loitering down dimly lit corridors, but the only thing really scary about "Revelation" is how it managed to avoid direct-to-DVD status.
Several years after the events of the first movie, Heather (Adelaide Clemens) is now travelling around the country with her father ("Game of Thrones"' Sean Bean, battling demons and his English accent). Heather is trying to get acquainted to a new school, but it's hard to make friends when she keeps getting teleported to Silent Hill, normally whenever the screenwriter is getting bored.
Eventually, the town's demonic cult members (led by Carrie-Anne Moss) kidnap Heather's dad in order to lure her back to the haunted city and complete a ritual to vanquish their resident stringy black-haired evil girl, Alessa. With the help her new friend Vincent (Kit Harington, another "Game of Thrones" alum battling his own English accent), Heather waltzes into Silent Hill and battles its various baddies, including a mannequin spider, murderous nurses and everyone's favorite geometry-themed murderer, Pyramid Head.
While certainly not a good movie, the original Christophe Gans-helmed "Silent Hill" did have a sense of mood and atmosphere that almost compensated for its convoluted, scare-less story. New writer/director Michael J. Bassett unfortunately has no patience for atmosphere, replacing it with cheap editing tricks, some overly bombastic "scary" scenes and a lot of flickering lights (apparently, there are no electricians in the evil cult).
Bassett's main ineffective technique of choice is useless quick cutting. One early sequence on a rickety elevator just stops because the choppy editing makes the monster disappear for no reason ... just to reappear a minute later for a cheap jump. An evil nurse attack would've been a creepy sequence if I could make out who was doing what to whom and why. And while we're on that scene, a torture asylum in which workers attack other workers instead of the prisoners doesn't seem like an effectively run house of horror.
A few of the creature designs are interesting – grotesque humanoid forms of flesh, stitches and metal – but the direction and editing don't let the audience take these things in. In fact, the film's one creepy sequence – a chase involving a spindly creature made of severed mannequin parts – is one of the few scenes where the camera mildly calms down and lets the bizarre eeriness speak for itself. Everywhere else, Bassett's edits just add loud punctuation, hoping that startling visual jumps will be good enough.
While the first film's mood and atmosphere weren't invited back for the sequel, the convoluted story reappears with a vengeance. Most of the movie's first act is spent flipping awkwardly between reality and Heather's random mental trips to Silent Hill, which are never explained or integrated into the story. It's freaky imagery for the sake of freaky imagery (despite all of the tedious exposition trying to make sense of things).
The script still can't even explain what Silent Hill is. When Vincent gets around to discussing its origins, it sounds like a grab bag of six other horror movies – a confusing mix of Indian burial grounds, mining accidents, evil cults, witch burning, demonic little girls and alternate dimensions.
Characters are integrated into "Silent Hill: Revelation" with the same grace and care that lumbering Pyramid Head uses to integrate his man-sized knife into people. After given nothing to do in the first film, Bean returns ... only to be kidnapped for most of the story. Moss' main villain and her masked henchmen aren't introduced until well into the movie and even then are poorly developed. And when Bassett's script runs out of ideas, it throws in Pyramid Head to stomp around and cut off some limbs. He seems more like violent set dressing rather than an actual threat.
It all ends with a duo of not-so-epic battles – one of which is comprised of a furious, fiery hug – and a revelation that makes the film's proceedings even more frustrating. However, it's hard to be too invested, much less scared, by a story that doesn't make any sense.
My personal motto: simple is scarier. In the case of "Silent Hill: Revelation," the only thing simple about it is that it shouldn't have been made.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published March 4, 2015
What's an early year PG-13 horror movie doing with such an overqualified and overall just plain odd cast? Too bad the actual movie itself isn't as surprising or unpredictable as its IMDB page, relying on the same tried and tired horror clichés, tropes and scares for success.
Published March 3, 2015
A funny thing - perhaps even a flipped-turned upside down thing - happened on the way to "Focus": The world fell out of love with Will Smith. The fairly small, R-rated con movie was never going to be the blockbuster to bring Smith firmly back up to sure thing box office status. What it does do, however, is quite nicely kill about two hours in sexy, sleek and breezily enjoyable fashion - a kind of Ocean's 6 or 7.
Published March 3, 2015
Rick Cleveland wishes America didn't want to watch "House of Cards." An interesting take - especially considering Cleveland wrote two episodes of the Netflix hit. However, for his latest work - the new play "Five Presidents," arriving at the Milwaukee Rep on March 10 - the tone lands a bit closer to Cleveland's other big political TV credit: "The West Wing."
Published March 1, 2015
It's been about 50 years since a bunch of bands made their way across the pond to America, sending the nation's teenagers into a tizzy - as well as their parents into a harrumph. Now, many of the figures from the era of the British Invasion - including Peter Asher, a renowned producer and the former half of the duo Peter & Gordon - are hitting the American road yet again for a 50th anniversary tour, coming to the Pabst Theater on Friday, March 6.
Published March 1, 2015
Rory Ferreira, aka Milo, has always been on the move. When he was a kid, he moved around a lot. Here, he moved up in the local rap scene, and with his name growing clout, he moved yet again - as many hopeful young artists do - to Los Angeles. And as many hopeful young artists do, he soon found the cold part of the industry. It became time to move again, back to the town he previously left: Milwaukee. So far, he's picking up right where he started.
Published Feb. 27, 2015
After a quarter of a century as Milwaukee music mainstays, Clamnation is coming to an end, bringing things to a grand close Friday night at the Nomad World Pub beginning at 9 p.m. There tends to be an assumption of the worst when band members go separate ways, but that's far from the case here.
Published Feb. 25, 2015
"The Lego Movie Sequel" made headlines yesterday announcing its newly appointed director: Rob Schrab, a veteran of TV shows like "The Mindy Project," "Children's Hospital" and, most notably, NBC's beloved cult hit "Community." He also wrote the indie hit comic book "Scud: The Disposable Assassin." Oh, and he's also from Wisconsin! Everything is local! Everything is cool when you're from Milwaukee!
Published Feb. 25, 2015
If you've kept an ear to the local music scene over the past year or two, the odds are good that you've heard about GGOOLLDD. The band hits the Company Brewing (the former Stonefly Brewery) stage on Saturday night as a part of Arte Para Todos. Before that, however, OnMilwaukee.com caught up with the group to learn more about Milwaukee's latest music obsession.
Published Feb. 24, 2015
In the war between honesty and artifice, "Still Alice" has a pretty phenomenal performance in the former's corner.
Published Feb. 22, 2015
In movies, time travel typically ends up in the hands of the decent or deserving. "Hot Tube Time Machine 2" proposes ... what if it didn't? What if, instead, it wound up in the depraved hands of a bunch of restrained man-child ids, who then proceeded to violate space, time and everyone and everything they ran into along the way? The answer? Some laughs, I guess. A good amount of silence too. Bags don't come much more mixed than this.