Review: Silent Hill Revelation
There are different kinds of bad.
There’s just regular bad, there’s so bad it’s good, so bad it’s bad, superbad, and so on. But rarely is something so obviously, inarguably bad that how bad it is ceases to have any effect on how you feel about it. Silent Hill: Revelation is that film.
Honestly, there’s little point bothering with the details of the plot – it’s the exact same as the first Silent Hill picture, with the added element of the lead actors explaining the entire plot of that first film verbatim, through the state-of-the-art technological medium of having lots of exposition dialogue dubbed in during post-production.
Michael J. Bassett (who writes as well as directs) sets the stall out for what the entire film is going to be like in the opening dream-cum-chase sequence: Heather (Adelaide Clemens), whose greatest achievement in this film is looking a little bit like Kirsten Dunst, runs away from masked, deformed crazies in an amusement park covered in cellofane at an agonisingly slow speed until confronted with a grey-skinned Goth clone of herself…for some reason.
The entire runtime of the movie is some variation on this theme, with things like relationships, plot, structure or common sense skirted over and swept under the rug in favour of crispy-critter digital effects and lavisihing attention on the murky art direction. A dopey plot-thread about a private investigator working for the reality hopping creatures segues badly into a sub-plot painting Heather as a murderer before being unceremoniously dropped until the second-sequel-baiting ending.
What all this jagged plotting ends up doing is leaving any potential for the leads to grow on the viewer, and any empathy we might have for Heather in particular, short-circuited from the get-go. Characters pop up and disappear like useless NPCs in the videogame the movie is based on, and have barely established themselves before they get offed or just plain written out of the storyline so Heather can get to the next level/scene at a stately jog which evokes exactly zero fear or excitement whatsoever. Character names could have just as easily said “Red Key” or “Extra Life” in the credits for all the worth they add to the picture.
Script and dialogue are workmanlike at best, and both are handled with ham-fisted bad accent-ness by the likes of Game Of Thrones alumni Sean Bean (returning from the first instalment) and Kit Harrington, appearing among a surprisingly starry cast for a low-budget sequel to a cult movie. Everyone gets at least one boring, speechy
monologue, usually recited over either a slomo flashback or a cutaway, that doesn’t advance the story or create an atmosphere.
Set-pieces are just as plodding and dour. The firey face-off between Heather and her clone is both confusing and anti-climactic, filled with more of the film’s reasonless, directionless dire-logue, and what you would expet to be a pitched battle between Heather and her “sister-daughter-self” ends up being resolved with, quite frankly, a bit of a cuddle.
Action-packed battle duties fall, then, to series figurehead Pyramid Head and Carrie-Anne Moss’ main villain, but this too ends up a short, ropey diet-Matrix scuffle that fits the pattern of something thrown together by the special effects crew to fill out the time between clunky character scenes which dominates the piece. From beginning to end the general feeling prevails that the basics have been woefully mishandled in favour of pointless attempts at jump shocks and gloopy gore.
And yet, despite this complete lack of anything approaching a coherent or original experience being shockingly evident, Silent Hill: Revelation proves surprisingly enjoyable. There’s something about the total abandonment of good common sense on display here that makes this way more fun than it has any right to be.
Unintentional hilarity ensues throughout; Malcolm McDowell pops up for a ludicrous cameo and death (which is funnier in 2D, trust me); a scene with Pyramid Head lopping off arms in a haunted asylum for no reason is both unnecessary and awesome, a creepy spider-creature made from human mannequins provides probably the best moments in the movie; a neat scene where kids at a birthday party turn into twisted cannibals that’s reminiscent of classic exploitation horrors of the 70s and 80s; And in a movie that’s painfully light on quips, the phrase “Seal Of The Metatron” elicits the biggest laugh of the entire thing.
Silent Hill: Revelation is not a good film, make no mistake. But this fact is about as revelatory as the fact that the sky is blue, that water is wet, or that vampires sparkle(okay maybe not that last one)– it’s obvious and has absolutely no bearing on whether or not you’ll enjoy it. If you can leave your inner critic at the door, then this has potential to be a fun, flimsy guilty pleasure. Otherwise, avoid.
[Words: Liam Kavanagh]