"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 â€“ grotesque humanoid forms of flesh, stitches and metal â€“ but the direction and editing don't let the audience take these things in. In fact, the film's one creepy sequence â€“ a chase involving a spindly creature made of severed mannequin parts â€“ 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 â€“ 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 â€“ one of which is comprised of a furious, fiery hug â€“ 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 July 24, 2015
At first glance, Ellington Ratliff may seem like the odd man in the pop rock band R5. He's the only one who's not a member of the Lynch family. He's the only one with a first name that doesn't begin with R (Riker, Rocky, Ross and Rydel make up the rest), and he's the only bandmate not born and raised in Colorado. Instead, Ratliff was born out in Los Angeles and split time in Wisconsin, making the band's Riverside gig Friday night a return of sorts.
Published July 23, 2015
If the last two days have proven anything, it's that Milwaukee will freaking lose their mind over the mere idea of a lion. At least, local movie fans Stephen Milek and Christopher Kai House certainly hope that is the case, as the two film buffs attempt to bring the notoriously insane 1981 thriller/borderline snuff film "Roar" to town.
Published July 22, 2015
Bookended by AJ Bombers and Water Street Brewery, Water Street is famous for three Bs: bars, burgers and bros. The tightly packed combination of those things has made the area a popular nighttime hot spot. Yet amongst all of the bars and clubs is something unexpected: A. Werner Silversmith, a buried treasure - quite literally considering its glass cases and shelves containing shimmering, beautifully repaired silver pieces - hiding in plain sight.
Published July 20, 2015
Brooklyn-based indie band Lazyeyes guitarist and singer Jason Abrishami has never been to Milwaukee - let alone any part of the Midwest really. He admits he hasn't even heard that much about the Cream City, but he'll learn about the city firsthand Wednesday night when the band and its shoegaze-laced dream rock makes its maiden trip to the city via a gig at The Mad Planet.
Published July 19, 2015
Tarsem Singh is a man who spent about four years and much of his own money traveling the globe's most outrageously beautiful locales in order to make his magnum opus "The Fall." So how'd he end up standing behind the camera of "Self/Less," an utterly anonymous and impact-free immortality action-thriller that - much like the fresh if not quite new bodies being peddled in the film - seems "alive only in the most basic sense"?
Published July 18, 2015
What if? It's two simple words, not even adding up 10 letters, but that seemingly innocent question has likely haunted every single person that's walked this planet at some point or another. And it's a question that fascinates Milwaukee native Cynthia Swanson, so much so that she made that idea the cornerstone for her debut novel, "The Bookseller."
Published July 17, 2015
Every band has at least a small group of devoted fans cheering it on and supporting it on its way to the spotlight. The retro "nu-wop" family band The Bronx Wanderers, coming to Festa Italiana this weekend, is no different - except some of those devoted fans just happen to be entertainment icons from their hometown neighborhood, including Dion DiMucci, Tony Orlando and Oscar-nominated actors Chazz Palminteri and Danny Aiello.
Published July 15, 2015
When Festa Italiana starts up this Friday at Henry Maier Festival Park, many will flock down to the lakefront to gulp down some real authentic Italian food and wine. Yet some of the most revered tastes of Italian culture coming to town this weekend are wholly inedible: the lovingly crafted and almost identical replicas of the country's most famous sites - this year including a 50-foot duplicate of the iconic Trevi Fountain.
Published July 12, 2015
Whenever some pop cultural hallmark gets a shiny new Hollywood remake or reboot, the Internet's response is always the same, to the point that you might as well give it its own key on the keyboard: "They're destroying my childhood!" In all cases, it's complete hyperbolic fanboy spazzing - all, except for maybe the case of "Terminator: Genisys" (the silly bonus y nicely echoing my main line of thought while watching the movie).
Published July 11, 2015
Channing Tatum must've heard your laments concerning the first "Magic Mike" film and brought most of the gang back together for "Magic Mike XXL," the best possible version of the sexy, silly male stripper movie audiences thought they were getting the first time though.