Film and TV

Silent Hill Revelations (film) – 3 GPPs

by on 08/11/2012
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Straight to the Point: In theory, then, this ought to make me the target audience for Silent Hill: Revelation. It is a sequel to a video game film and such films, should they exist, tend to do so for the fans. Yet I must say that I did not enjoy SH:R overall. It was not a good film.

Review For a start, it makes the initial mistake of trying to adapt the story of Silent Hill 3, arguably the worst game in the opening 4 and potentially even the worst overall plot-wise; this is a game where the opening 5 hours are spent with the main character going home from the mall and it requires a major character murder to get Heather Mason to even go to Silent Hill. In making such a decision, I feel they hobbled themselves.

This faithfulness to the game opens with ‘Heather Mason’ – Sharon from the first film – having a dream about being in the Toluca Lake Amusement Park exactly as per the beginning of Silent Hill 3. And, just like the game, it is a little creepy but lacks any punch by virtue of ‘the horrifying dream followed by bolting awake’ trope being more overused than Pyramid Head (more on him later). Douglas Cartland, a major character in SH3, then appears in his new guise of walking exposition and a weirdly tangential murder victim, and Vincent is her classmate having gone from a genuinely unsettling embezzler to a foppy love interest portrayed by Jon Snow (Winter is coming).

A series of disconnected intrusions by the darkness mean Lord Stark as ‘Harry Mason’ – Chris Da Silva from the first film – is kidnapped for… some reason… and Heather gets to hang about in the back of a mall (just like in Silent Hill 3) but not before we see a flashback of how Sharon was handed back to Sean Bean, a scene which had the disconcerting air of having been directed by someone who won a competition to do so. Before Harry is whisked away, the kidnappers have time to write ‘Come to Silent Hill’ in blood as well as draw a version of the famous Silent Hill seal.

Heather is brought home by Jon Snow, who finds her at them mall, to find the bloody message. She digs out half of the Seal of Metatron that she appeared with all those years ago and some notebooks from Harry which repeatedly warn her not to go to Silent Hill.

And so she goes to Silent Hill. Without any motivation to really do so beyond ‘Saving Dad’.

This marks the first point at which the film starts to wobble. In SH3, Heather is driven to Silent Hill to enact revenge against Claudia Wolf, which marks a real moment of growth in what had been a very ditzy and weird Heather up until that point. However, SH:R misses this opportunity because they didn’t want to kill Sean Bean.

Heather and Jon Snow then hole up in a hotel room and Jon reveals that he is actually working with the Order who have been hunting Heather because she was the good part of Alessa, the catch-all demon of this Silent Hill. Alessa is still tormenting some parts of the Order who tried to kill Sharon in the first film and they want to get rid of her by making Heather the vessel for ‘their God’. This despite the Order having all died in the first film. So yeah…

Jon Snow is then captured by the ‘spirits’ of the Order and Heather has only the reformation of the Seal of Metatron to go on to move the film along. As in SH3, the other half of the Seal of Metatron is held by Leonard Wolf, hammed up by Malcolm McDowell in SH:R. It’s actually a quite good performance of a somewhat hammy character as he taunts and teases Heather.

But first Heather has to get to the Asylum he’s held at, which she does via meeting Dahlia Gillespie and a very long piece of exposition in which we learn Pyramid Head is Alessa’s champion, guardian and all-round favourite guy.

On her way to the Asylum we’re treated to a rather creepy section with a Silent Hill: Homecoming-inspired mannequin monster that represents one of the few genuinely disturbing parts of the film as its joy in transforming young women into dolls is very well executed.

Heather escapes and gets to the Asylum.There, Malcolm McDowell steals the Seal of Metatron from her and combines it with the other half in his own body to become Generic Flesh Hulk. Generic Flesh Hulk knocks Heather over, picks her up and carries her for… some reason… which allows her the opportunity to reach into his body and pull the Seal back out, thus killing him. This also gives us one of the most redundant lines in the film “The two halves are connected,” or something, which is a metaphor for obviousness as it turns out.

Heather is then alone in the Asylum, whose inmates all decide to appear and be a bit grabby. Being unhappy with this, Heather decides to call on Alessa to help her, who sends Pyramid Head to chop off those wandering hands and helpfully punctuating the true descent into madness that SH:R takes from this point. What a guy.

Being not completely dopey, Heather runs away from old PH and finds Jon Snow. Who, I realise I’ve neglected to mention as the scene was memorable only in its awfulness, was condemned to the Asylum by his talcum-addicted mother (another odd change) Claudia Wolf, a no-note villainess who still wants to bring about the birth of a new God as per SH3.

In what is perhaps the second-most perplexing scene in the film, a hotly-contested category, Jon Snow is wheeled into a room full of Nurses by members of the Order… for some reason. The Nurses, hating all things living and with a face, naturally quickly kill the members of the Order and then start approaching Jon whenever he moves. Then Heather appears literally from nowhere, rising like an unpleasant bubble from bathwater, and starts to release him from the gurney he’s tied to. There’s some minimal attempt at suspense before they escape but the main thing I had to ask was WHY DID THE ORDER PUT HIM IN A DEADLY ROOM THEY HAD NO HOPE OF ESCAPING?!

Anyway, Heather and Jon then go to the Toluca Lake Amusement Park where the Order have hidden themselves as Lord Stark is there. Jon sacrifices himself after kissing Heather to distract members of the Order who are half-heartedly searching for them and we are then treated to pretty-much a carbon copy of the opening dream. Which I’d say was lazy film-making if this wasn’t exactly what happens in SH3, so we can’t hold that against them too much.

Where the confrontation between Alessa and Heather differs from SH3 is that instead of being the hardest and creepiest boss-fight in the game, Alessa and Heather angrily hug. Yeah…

With her newfound hugging powers, Heather ventures into the heart of the Order and meets Claudia Wolf in a cavalcade of awful acting. She transforms Claudia using the Seal of Metatron into one of the Silent Hill 3 monsters and then calls Pyramid Head to fight as her champion. Being a stand-up guy and no longer the representation of a fabulously neurotic man who feels like he should be punished, PH steps in and a very weird few minutes of two inhuman monsters oddly fighting follows. It felt, in hindsight, like seeing Freddy vs. Jason minus even the flimsy plot that film had.

But ‘good’ triumphs and Claudia is defeated. PH pimps away, job done, presumably to hug a kitten. Lord Stark is then freed and he, Heather and Jon Snow leave the Order’s den. Except Lord Stark then decides that he needs to find Rose Da Silva from the first film, who we know is stuck in Silent Hill, primarily to give us a weird hook for a third film. He happily hands off his daughter that he has protected for more than a decade to a young man who belonged to the Order that he protected her from and turns into fog, leaving Heather and Jon to walk out of Silent Hill.

It was pretty bad but there was some genuine effort put in by the filmmakers to be respectful to the source material in places; the use of Samael as a statue was appreciated, as were the final references to Silent Hill Origins and Silent Hill Downpour. There were many other little hints and faithful touches that I picked up on because I was a massive geek.
However when it came to the ultimate aim of telling a creepy and interesting story the filmmakers lamentably failed. Whether it was the development hell the film was stuck in for years or the over-exuberance of a creative team who loved Silent Hill and 70s B-movies and decided to combine the two whilst discarding any semblance of logic, who knows.

To summarise, only watch Silent Hill: Revelations if it’s free or you fancy making a drinking game by taking a shot everytime Sean Bean’s accent is weird or the plot makes your brainmeats hurt.

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