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'Silent Hill: Revelation' Movie Review

About.com Rating 1 Star Rating

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'Silent Hill: Revelation' poster
© Open Road
Movies based on video games have not exactly been critical darlings, and thanks in large part to Uwe Boll, horror video game adaptations have been particularly odious. The first Silent Hill, though no great film, was one of the better of its ilk, but its sequel Silent Hill: Revelation embodies the shallow, nonsensical, style-over-substance nature for which video game movies are known. I almost had to check the credits to make sure Boll wasn't involved.

The Plot

When we left Silent Hill, Rose Da Salva (Radha Mitchell) and her daughter Sharon (Erin Pitt) were stuck in the monster-infested "otherworld" that, through some means I still don't fully understand, was created by a wronged girl name Alessa to get revenge on the cult members who tried to burn her alive. Apparently, Rose was able to acquire some magical seal that allowed Sharon to return to the real world (Why not both? Don't try to apply reason here.) and reunite with her father Christopher (Sean Bean), although the girl -- who was somehow born as the "good" side of Alessa -- had no memory of what had happened to her.

Ever since then, Sharon (Adelaide Clemens), now on the verge of her 18th birthday, and Christopher have been on the run from the evils of Silent Hill -- although he tells her it's because he killed an a robber when she was a child. Father and daughter have moved from place to place and have changed their names repeatedly -- now known as Heather and Harry -- but that doesn't stop the supernatural forces from finding them. The otherworldly cult members want her to return to help end Alessa's curse, while Alessa wants to ensure she doesn't return. But when the cult kidnaps Harry, Heather learns the truth about her past and is forced into action, teaming with classmate Vincent (Kit Harrington) to return to the mysterious town from her nightmares.

The End Result

Kit Harington and Adelaide Clemens in 'Silent Hill: Revelation'.

Kit Harington and Adelaide Clemens in 'Silent Hill: Revelation'.

© Open Road
I've never played any of the Silent Hill video games, but I'd wager their plots make more sense to players than the story in Silent Hill: Revelation does to viewers. And if anyone argues that you have to be familiar with the games to understand the movie, that just tells me the movie didn't do a good job of storytelling. The plot is contrived and nonsensical throughout, from the way in which the presumed-dead characters return to the mechanics of how some people/things can cross between worlds to the muddled character motivation and on-the-fly town mythology to the logic of how the characters who want to keep Heather away from Silent Hill decide to either stockpile as much information on the town as possible for her to find (in her father's case) or bombard her with dreams about the town, thus feeding her curiosity (in Alessa's case).

The visuals are impressively achieved for a film with a reportedly modest $20 million budget -- although the 3D element adds little besides the obligatory severed body part tossed at the camera -- but like the first movie, they rely too heavily on what's perceived to be "freaky" creature design (if bodily contortions and blank faces are you're thing, you're in luck) with little thought put into creating a truly scary context in which the monsters can thrive. The human characters are perhaps even more one-dimensional, their rigid stature cemented by wooden dialogue and melodramatic acting from leads Clemens and Harrington.

It's disappointing that writer-director Michael J. Bassett's name was attached to this train wreck, as his previous directorial efforts were all enjoyable, from the under-the-radar gems Deathwatch and Wilderness to the long-delayed period horror hybrid Solomon Kane. Given his otherwise stellar track record, I tend to give him a pass for being tasked with making sense of the nonsensical -- including, from what I understand, trying to bridge a film (in Silent Hill) that deviated from the game storyline and one (in Revelation) that skewed back toward it (specifically, the game Silent Hill 3.

The Skinny

  • Acting: D- (Embarrassingly stiff and melodramatic.)
  • Direction: C (Competent but emotionless and devoid of scares.)
  • Script: F (Nonsensical and moronic with stilted dialogue.)
  • Gore/Effects: B- (Good effects for the budget; sterile, non-impactful gore.)
  • Overall: D (A dumb, confusing shiny bauble of a horror video game adaptation.)

Silent Hill: Revelation is directed by Michael J. Bassett and is rated R by the MPAA for violence and disturbing images, some language and brief nudity. Release date: October 26, 2012.

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