Silent Hill: Revelation
An Invitation Not To Be Ignored
Silent Hill: Revelation 3D is the movie follow up to the first Silent Hill movie. So technically it would be Silent Hill 2, in the normal course of things, but nothing is ever normal in Silent Hill, as fans already know. So instead of calling this movie "2" and confusing all the fans of the games, since this movie is not based on the second game but rather is based on the third, they decided to film it in 3D so they can have an excuse for the way they decided to handle the sequels.
Of course it really isn't a bad idea. After all the third game really was the only direct sequel to the first game, the second game was really more of a stop-over in the telling of the story of this town called 'Silent Hill'. A very, very well written, engaging, and amazing stop-over to be sure, but a stop-over all the same. So instead of confusing all the new fans of the movies by sidelining the plot by introducing Silent Hill 2 into the tale, they shoe-horned 3 into place instead, saving a bit of explanation time. Except for the game fans, I guess they just expected us to get it. For the most part I guess they were right.
This is a direct follow-up to my review of the first Silent Hill movie, found here.
The Basic Plot
Sharon Da Silva was rescued from Silent Hill by Christopher, her adopted father. However her mother, Rose, is still stuck in Silent Hill. Christopher has not given up hope of rescuing Rose, however they had been found by the members of the religious cult that was founded in, and has given life to, the town of Silent Hill. Because of this, they have been on the run for the past few years, and have even taken to changing their names on a regular basis, which Sharon kindly shares the list of names she has used with us so that we, as true Silent Hill fans, can squeal with glee when she mentions a familiar name. So now her father is Harry Mason, and she is Heather. It all makes perfect sense.
The movie opens up on Sharon/Heather running from a group of cultists, who don't really seem to be trying very hard to find or catch her I must say. She looks around and she is in the center of an amusement park with Robbie the Rabbit costumes and plush animals, bloody mouths and all, hanging around. She is confronted by Dark Alessa who warns Heather that she cannot hope to stand up to her dark side, so she should not go to Silent Hill. However after the dream is fully over we learn that Heather does not remember anything from her previous visit to Silent Hill, she was told by her father that she was in a car accident and her mother did not survive. She believes they are running away from the police because Christopher killed someone, not aware of the fact that the person he killed was from the cult and had been killed because he would have tried to take Heather back to Silent Hill.
Adelaide Clemens was cast as Heather/Alessa. She really is a brilliant actress, I fully believed her character. My only issue with her was that she did not really channel the Heather from the games. Heather from the game was a streetwise, tough enough to confront the man she thought was stalking her. Heather from the movie sees someone stalking her and worriedly calls her father to ask him what she should do. Either motivation is valid, but the change in personality is enough to worry a viewer when you know the main character is going to be confronting her nightmares soon. Sean Bean has returned to revise his role as the father. He has slightly more to do with the movie plot than the first movie, but with less camera time. His main contribution to the story is to provide backstory to connect the two movies, and be captured so that Heather has motivation to go to Silent Hill.
Kit Harington was cast as Vincent, who in the tradition of the first movie, was changed from one of the main villains into a victim. He was originally sent out into the real world from the cult to keep an eye on Heather, but in a very male move decided that she could not be the evil that the cult told him she was because she is pretty. He becomes the main support for Heather, taking the role from the detective, Douglas Cartland, played by Martin Donovan. Douglas is instead relegated to basically a walk-on part, mainly acting creepy and then warning Heather of the danger coming her way before dying painfully.
Deborah Kara Unger is back, reprising her role as Dahlia Gillespie. She has an opportunity to explain her actions to Heather/Alessa when Heather confronts her reasons for not rescuing Alessa from the actions of the cult. The main villain of this movie is Claudia Wolf, played by Carrie-Anne Moss. My main complaint for this role was that you really never got to know Claudia Wolf at all. Her scenes were generally quite short, and very sparse on her motivation or any personality.
Silent Hill Revelations actually has a different cinematographer from the first movie. Maxime Alexandre is the cinematographer this time, and I can't say that this is better or worse. Revelations is still a beautiful movie visually. Each world is still easily recognizable by sight. However this time there is no siren announcing when the transitions are coming. This loses a bit of the feeling of being stuck at the whim of some random set of circumstances. On the other hand, the part of the movie where Heather is in the manequin warehouse lost none of its oppressive atmosphere or feeling of danger, even before you see the monster.
I'm really not sure quite what to write for editing. Michele Conroy did the editing for Revelations, and I think the best thing I can say is I don't really notice the editing. But then again, when you are really into a movie the only time you truly notice editing is when it has been done badly. In direct violation of that sentiment, I have to say that I noticed and appreciated the clever editing particularly during the scene after the mall, when Vincent and Heather are walking and she is trying to ask Vincent about the missionaries on the bridge, she says "Never mind. Its just another thing to prove that I'm going crazy." Then the movie cuts to an old man laughing maniacally on the bus.
The music score was done again by Jeff Danna and Akira Yamaoka. Yamaoka was the person who did the music for the Silent Hill games, and is simply amazing. I did not really notice that the music stayed quite as faithful to the game as the first movie did with the first game, however it wasn't quite different enough to bring me out of the feeling of Silent Hill.
Style and Directing
The style of this film leaves nothing in question to the fact that this is a movie based on Silent Hill. The use of Robbie the Rabbit, complete with the packaged stuffed animals hanging from the carnival games looking like they have recently fed on real rabbits, if not humans who were silly enough to allow themselves to be vulnerable near them. There were so many references to the game in images, costuming, set design, it was almost as if director Michael J. Bassett listened to all the complaints about the changes in the first movie and decided to cram as much of the game as he possibly could into the movie, which just makes the changes in the story and plot that he carried through with all the more baffling.
Monsters of Revelation
Impact of Society
The subject matter of being lost in Silent Hill is a metaphoric idea of being lost to yourself due to some deep seated guilt or a personal sense of failing, it is basically the idea of being trapped with the feeling that you are not really a good person. With Silent Hill 3 the idea behind it was that Heather was not the person she thought she was, she really had this dark past she was unaware of, and her dark past was haunting her through her dreams. This general core idea translated rather well to the films, down to the otherwise innocent Suki who becomes part of the Mannequin Monster, thus furthering the violation and corruption of the next person who is caught up in Silent Hill.
This is in direct contrast with the manner in which they chose to show Pyramid Head. He was portrayed in a manner which was very symbolic of his use by the movies in general, as a slave to be towed out for the fans but not really of much use to further the point of the movie in general. Pyramid Head used to stand for the demons in James Sunderland's head, but now just signifies the misunderstanding of the horrors he was meant to portray. Pyramid Head in the game was such an iconic image, the very idea of a man who was a slave to his very most basic instincts.
The genre of this movie is psychological horror. In the tradition of the games, the movie does its best to crawl into your mind and evoke the creepiest thoughts living in the darkest recesses. If not for the left turn it makes into bondage fetishism it would have worked really well, however the number of buckles and belts around the missionaries, not to mention the hooks and chains used on Pyramid Head do not help to heighten the fear factor, but instead nearly transports this movie into another genre altogether.
Film Criticism and Analysis
Instead of making the game plot into the movie and referencing the first movie only slightly, or continuing the first movie's plot into this movie and only filling in with the game plot points where they would fit, it was almost like he took all the movie elements, all the game elements, and then cut and pasted them into this movie. I wouldn't even complain about that if he had pieced it into something that made sense, plot-wise, like those picture montages where the large picture is made up of tiny individual pictures. Instead when he was cutting and pasting he seems to have lost the big picture in his mind. He either forgot or had forgotten to plan where he was going.
Its a real shame because despite its flaws the first movie actually had something to recommend it. You could follow the convoluted plot and actually see the heart of a real film there. Revelations lost that heart in the pursuit of a more valid Silent Hill 3 experience, once again alienating not only the Silent Hill game fans, but the basic beginnings of the Silent Hill movie fans as well.
Silent Hill: Revelations
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This movie had many issues. It had so many options to how it could have been handled. It could have followed the continuity set by the first movie and only used the game for filler. It could have just followed the plot and direction of the game and pretended the first movie didn't exist at all. It could have gone its own way all together and ignored everything and everyone else.
The main problem with this movie is that with a new writer, Laurent Hadida, and a new director, Michael J. Bassett, they had far too many choices. And it seems they didn't quite know what to do with the choices they had. Instead of trying to do their own thing, and then standing their ground to defend it from the ones who would have been disappointed, they tried far too hard to satisfy everyone. This is the very definition of the road to ruin, to try to satisfy everyone and end up satisfying no one. At least when you are trying to satisfy only yourself you can count on at least one person being happy with the results.
I can't say that I hated this movie. I thought the special effects were handled terrifically. I thought thought Adelaide Clemens did a fantastic job, though I missed my Heather. At least she did toughen up towards the end. I also missed creepy, crazy Vincent and completely resented Valtiel being chained to Claudia Wolf as a villain instead of being the guardian of Silent Hill and totally behind the scenes, backseated to Pyramid Head. All that being said I guess what I felt about this movie was just incredible disappointment. At least with the first movie I could pretend that it was an alternate reality from the Silent Hill I knew, a nod to people who would want to see the movie but would not have a clue what was going on. I went into the first movie knowing it would not be the Silent Hill I knew, and ready to take it at face value. I could not do that with a sequel to a movie just a few years prior.
If you are a Silent Hill fan you can go into this movie just for the thrill of seeing iconic images and scenes recreated faithfully, just be prepared to be lost and confused. If you are a fan of the first movie you can only look forward to the lost and confused part, it pretty much throws most of the plot of the first movie out the window. That being said, it is a well-crafted movie visually with good acting, the monsters will still give you the creeps and the dark world will leave you wondering if you can catch something through the movie screen. If you can leave all your expectations at home you may still find something to enjoy in this film.