Directed by Michael J. Bassett
Distributed by Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Six and a half years. Six and a half very long years I’ve waited on this film. Understand – I adore Christophe Gans’ 2006 video game adaptation Silent Hill, starring Radha Mitchell, Sean “I get to live!” Bean, and go-to creepy kid Jodelle Ferland. The Brotherhood of the Wolf filmmaker created a gorgeous, atmospheric, and genuinely scary tale full of solid performances, kickass creature effects, and a memorable musical score. By the time the credits rolled, I could hardly wait for the next installment in what would surely be a long-running franchise concerning the eponymous town and its spooky inhabitants.
Unfortunately, Gans seemed to lose interest in the world he’d helped bring to the screen, attaching himself to another video game adaptation while this potential sequel farm languished in rumor-mill hell. Half a decade passed before the powers that be eventually decided to move on without Gans and forward with a follow-up, titled Silent Hill: Revelation.
And wow, is it terrible.
Picking up years after the original film, Revelation follows young Heather Mason (Clemens), as she and her father Harry (Bean) constantly travel around the country in order to shield Heather from forces that conspire to bring her back to Silent Hill. Y’see, it seems as though Heather is actually a grown-up Sharon Da Silva (the previous movie’s “good” counterpart of Hill’s evil antagonist), while her dad is the original film’s Chris Da Silva. As they settle in to yet another new town at the film’s beginning, Heather’s frequent dreams about Silent Hill and its creatures intensify, even as she tries to live as close to a normal life as possible. When Harry is dad-napped by the evil denizens of the city they’ve been running from, Heather decides to venture forth into Silent Hill to save her father and confront the demons that have haunted her for so long.
Doesn’t sound too terrible, does it? Well, I haven’t yet mentioned the fact that, once the film gets going, it’s essentially just a series of dull setpieces strung together haphazardly, occasionally featuring some decent creature work even though most of it seems cribbed from far better material (is Clive Barker the litigious sort, I wonder?). And while the original film made its episodic nature seem organic, this flick shines a light on the fact that it’s based on a video game, with the different “levels” making up the film being crudely connected by the only thinnest of plots.
Worse still, the screenplay is just awful – with plot holes galore, lame contrivances, and not a stitch of dialogue that ever rings true (poor Radha Mitchell – I do believe that she tried her best to make the phrase “My love…” work, all eighty-seven times she had to repeat it during her brief return appearance). And the acting is all over the place. Adelaide Clemens does perhaps the best job one could with the material given, Sean Bean is predictably solid in a bad film, and the always-underused Martin Donovan makes a decent enough impression from the few moments he has on screen. On the other hand – Kit Harington, playing Heather’s new friend and potential love interest, is just terrible. I don’t care how great he is on “Game of Thrones”, his performance here is bland, utterly wooden, and seemingly inspired by every badly dubbed hero in all of Dario Argento’s output from the 90s. Meanwhile, Carrie-Anne Moss and Malcolm McDowell just appear to be mostly embarrassed when onscreen, and who could blame them?
To be fair, the musical score is great, Maxime Alexandre’s photography is impressive at times, and some of the trippy visuals are quite cool. Director Michael J. Bassett, who has some decent credits to his name, carries over the original film’s beautiful grunge into this film, and a few of the creatures and setpieces are actually a bit fun (when they’re practical, as opposed to being CG-driven). Still, the few things gotten right are far overshadowed by all that’s been done wrong. With a stronger script, a surer hand, and a more solid cast, this sequel might have had a chance at doing the original film justice. As it stands, this film and its pitiful box office returns have probably sounded the death knell for a once-promising franchise. I wish the director well for his next film, so long as this movie proves to be a valuable (if painful) learning experience for him.
By the way – Christophe Gans, if you’re out there, just know that by abandoning your baby, you’re partially responsible for this travesty. Do us all a solid, and beg the studio to greenlight a third film for you to helm. Least you can do, man.
Universal brings Revelation to disc with a mostly solid transfer and an impressive audio track. The image is scythe-sharp, as to be expected from a big studio release. Colors are mostly impressive, as are the blacks, though the image does tend to looked washed out from time to time. The DTS-HD 5.1 track is an ass-kicker, creating an aural world that fully envelopes one before jolting the hell out of you. Unfortunately, little work went into the supplemental material. We get a brief featurette, and a trailer. That’s it. Ah, who gives a damn anyway?
No matter how much you may have enjoyed your previous stay, folks, take it from me – Silent Hill is no longer worth visiting. Avoid.
1/2 out of 5
1/2 out of 5