johnlink ranks SILENT HILL: REVELATION (2012)

I’ve been sitting on this movie for awhile. I recently documented my love for the first film, and I fully realize how miraculous it is that we got even one great SILENT HILL movie. I had major concerns about this sequel. New director, many new actors, and a focus on 3D (I didn’t watch this in 3D at home) seemed to point to a more standard horror movie experience. But, after plenty of delay, I did finally watch the movie…

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I watched SILENT HILL: REVELATION (2012) on 8.17.13. It was my first viewing of the film.

If director Christophe Gans set out to make a love letter to the game series with the first movie, then replacement writer/director Michael J. Bassett was looking to make his own personal improvements to the series with this second movie. In the bonus features, he talks about how he took the third game, the first movie, and then added a whole bunch of his own stuff. He says this proudly.

Look, I don’t think it is inherently bad to adapt source material liberally. Plenty of movies and shows have done this successfully. But in making a SILENT HILL film his way, Bassett has made a movie which doesn’t particularly resonate. The first movie starts at full speed and doesn’t wait for you to catch up. It doesn’t insult your intelligence. The first half of this sequel is filled with flashbacks. Some are understandable looks back at the first film to remind people where we came from. I can deal with those. But the titular revelations in this film come often and easy. We seemingly spend more time being told and shown things that happened than we are showing things which are happening now.

The story brings back Sean Bean as the father, Harry. He has been traveling around the country hiding his daughter Sharon (the new actress in the role is Adelaide Clemens). His wife is still missing, though Radha Mitchell kindly does do a cameo to tie up the previous film. A mysterious Order is stalking them, trying to bring Sharon (now called Heather to protect her identity) back to Silent Hill. It seems they need her to be near her alter-ego Alessa so that they can kill her off and create a new God. Or something.

Cameos abound in an effort to fill out the cast list. Malcolm McDowell has one fun scene as an insane asylum prisoner. Carrie-Anne Moss has two rather short scenes as a cult leader. Deborah Kara Unger returns as Alessa’s mother for one scene (in which she merely provides backstory then leaves). We do get a more permanent cast member added in Kit Harrington (Sean Bean’s bastard son from Game of Thrones), and he does well enough as the male counterpart to our lead female.

The atmosphere of the world has changed. The 3D effects mean that the fog and ash effects are powerfully ineffective in 2D. The first movie wasn’t a special effects powerhouse, but it got the job done. The sequel didn’t hit the same notes of atmospheric authenticity, so the film suffers as a result. The story makes the decision to fully embrace the ‘hell’ world for much of the last thirty minutes, so the terror of that world is necessarily lost. By the end, it doesn’t feel nearly as scary.

There are some great monsters. A mannequin spider is cool, even if the CGI isn’t spectacular. Pyramid Head is effective. The new villain, complete with razor head and bladed arms, works well. Unfortunately, we don’t care all that much when these two battle to the death in the film’s climax. Deus-ex-pyramid-head, I suppose, is the decision made. I would much rather have seen our heroes fight it out. But we can’t have everything.

I know I’m probably being unfairly harsh on this movie. I just have such a love for the series and the first movie, that this sequel was everything I was afraid a SILENT HILL movie might turn into. The story is too concerned about logic, the script is too concerned about holding our hand, and the world-creation is just not where the first one was. Where the first movie took meticulous pains to create the town of SILENT HILL, this movie can’t be bothered to spend more than half the movie there.

This whole thing ends with a tease of a third film. And what they tease could be a wonderful film.

But, please, please, please… bring Christophe Gans back next time, if we get a next time.

SCORES

FILM: 3; MOVIE: 6; ACTING: 5; WRITING: 2

3+6+5+2+0=16

FINAL SCORE: 4

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~ by johnlink00 on August 18, 2013.

3 Responses to “johnlink ranks SILENT HILL: REVELATION (2012)”

  1. I loved the first one – let’s make that clear. I started watching this one night and couldn’t finish it – which is very rare since I always try and finish what I start. I thought this was pretty miserable…

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