A Movie Review on Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (2012)
Silent Hill is a hugely popular video game franchise that are considered some of the scariest games ever made. I remember reading about the first Silent Hill game many, many years ago in an issue of Playstation Magazine before it was released. I had to have the game, and boy was it terrifying. The first three games in the series are absolutely scary, and gave me nightmare when I was younger, but it never stopped me from playing. After the first game the series took a noise dive, and is still trying to pick itself up. Then, in 2006 the first Silent Hill movie was released. It was not well received by critics garnering only 29% on Rotten Tomatoes. The one thing critics all agreed on were that the visuals and set design were fantastic. Fans of video games series seemed to enjoy the film although many felt that the film started off strong, delivering the look and feel of the Silent Hill games, but then as the film progressed it began to make quite a few miss-steps.
The first film, directed by Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf), follows a mother and her young daughter as they venture into the town of Silent Hill, after the young daughter repeatedly cries out the name of the town while sleepwalking. When a mysterious girl steps out in front of their car the mother, Rose, swerves to avoid hitting her and crashes the car. Upon waking up she finds that her daughter is gone and she is now in the town of Silent Hill. She heads into town in search of her daughter but much to her dismay she encounters hideous creatures, a religious cult and a town that seems to jump dimensions.
The sequel, Silent Hill: Revelation, which is an adaption of the third game, picks up years later with Sharon and her father living under the names of Heather and Harry Mason. They are constantly moving, running away from the forces of Silent Hill who want nothing more then to get Sharon back. After her father is kidnapped, she, along with a new kid from school Vincent, venture into Silent Hill to get back her father. Now Sharon must face off against hideous creatures, a group known as The Order, and the town itself as it tries to trap her there forever, while searching to free her father from the town and stop the darkness from trying to get her.
I absolutely loved the film, but I'm also a die hard Silent Hill nerd. There are plenty of ups and downs for this film though so I'll try to be as fair and neutral as possible. First thing I need to say is that, although Michael J. Basset, the director of the film, has stated that he made this movie for both fans and the general audience, but its pretty clear that this film caters more to the fans of the game than anyone else. Let's focus on all the great things about the movie first.
The 3D is wonderful. It's both used for depth and for gimmick and it works. The movie was filmed in 3D so it doesn't have that crappy post-conversion look, similar to Clash of the Titans. The opening scene of the movie there is ash falling within Silent Hill and for a moment you'll think you're in Silent Hill. I actually reached out and tried to grab some of the ash. Throughout the film, whether it's the fog seeping through the screen or Pyramid Head's sword, it looks fantastic. It's definitely one of the best uses of 3D in a film this year. The visuals and set decoration are beautiful, and you can clearly see where most of the budget went. Most of the movies takes place indoors, and the rooms and areas are quite eerie. A lot of time and effort was put into the movie to make it carry the same look and feel of the games. The Mall, Brookhaven Asylum, and the Carnival are all gorgeous looking.
The monster design is also fantastic with the movie using some of the same creatures from the third game such as the Nurses, the Missionary, the Closer while bringing in creatures from the other games such as the Mannequin monster and Red Pyramid (known as Pyramid Head to fans). Now, while Pyramid head should only in a game featuring James Sunderland, he is such a iconic figure from the series that I completely understand them wanting to include him in the movie again. He was also out of place in the first film, so they couldn't just ignore it. The only monster design I really questioned was the Missionary because in the film they made it look like one of Pinhead's cenobites instead of the actual Missionary from the game. The one from the game is much scarier looking.
The story is where the movie starts to get a little messy. I applaud Basset for trying to stick very close to the game, but the telling of the story could have, and should have been handled much better than it was. While the story is complex, its not overly complex, and people just have to use their brains a little bit. What Basset has opted to do was gives us a few scenes of complete exposition, explaining everything that has happened, instead of letting things unravel throughout the movie. He could have easily eliminated these scenes, and tacked on another 20 minutes to the movie and things would have worked out so much better. Instead, the scenes of exposition we are given are very heavy, and those not familiar with the games can become confused easily. Another 20 minutes would also eliminate the rushed feeling you'll get throughout the film. Like I've said, the story is complex, there is a lot of story to tell, and at 94 minutes there is not enough time to tell it all without rushing through it. The pacing of the first film was perfect, with the film being just over 2 hours long. Things were able to be revealed throughout the film without being handed heavy scenes of exposition or feeling rushed. As a huge fan of the third Silent Hill game I found the ending to be very disappointing, but those not familiar with the games won't know the difference.
The real weak point of the film is not the acting per say but the script. The dialogue the actors are given to say are absolutely terrible, and quite horrific. Sometimes the things the actors have to say are scarier than the movie itself. Adelaide Clemens does a great job as Sharon/Heather and fits the look and attitude of the character. Her acting is great when she's not delivering terrible lines of dialogue. Kit Harrington, who many will know as Jon Snow from Game of Thrones, sounds weird with a different accent. It was hard to get used to. Sean Bean, I thought, was great and was typical Sean Bean. Spoiler Alert *** His character doesn't die for a change. Spoiler End*** None of the other actors really make an impression, with Malcolm McDowell as Leonard Wolf, which the monster version is completely underused, Carrie-Ann Moss as Claudia Wolf who does a pretty decent job in the role, and Martin Donovan was Douglas Cartland whose character is disappointingly underused after being such a prominent figure in the third game.
Overall, fans of the games should love this movie, while critics and the general audience might not to be as kind. The movie rides on its gorgeous visuals, set design, and monster design. The script is the weakest part of the film, with the story being a little messy, and the dialogue being terrible. While the story is a great one to be told, they do not do it justice in this movie. Fan of the games, keep an eye out during the final scene for a couple of Easter Eggs. They are pretty damn awesome.
As a huge fan of the Silent Hill series: 8/10
As a general movie reviewer: 6/10
Written and Directed by Michael J Basset
Starring Adelaide Clemens, Kit Harrington, Sean Bean, Carrie-Anne Moss, Malcolm McDowell, and Deborah Kara Unger.
Rated R. Runtime: 94 Minutes