The weekend before Halloween is traditionally an exciting one for horror film fans. At least one horror film usually gets released that weekend that will no doubt satisfy our need for blood and hopefully some good scares. Since the first Saw film landed the coveted weekend spot in 2004, each subsequent year up to and including 2010 was home to another entry in the franchise on this weekend. And like that franchise, which focused more on the blood than true scares, the sequel to 2006′s Silent Hill comes in on the same weekend and delivers in an identical fashion. While Silent Hill: Revelation 3D may not have nearly as much of the red stuff as the previous leading Halloween contender, both series have an attention to the visuals in lieu of any rational story.
There are many horror films that I watch that seem to encourage the viewer to shut off their brain and to just go along for the ride. Revelation unintentionally takes the viewer to this point even though it tries tirelessly to provoke your mind with a story that is absolutely nonsensical. In the easiest way to describe the convoluted story, Revelation opens with Heather and her father moving to a new town in an attempt to forget their past and to avoid the strangers that seem to be perusing them. Heather’s mother, unbeknownst to her, is permanently stuck in Silent Hill following the events of the first film even though she was able to get her daughter out at the last minute. Nightmarish visions plague Heather’s daily life and force her to question her own reality. Fellow new student in school, Vincent (Kit Harington from Game of Thrones) tries to help Heather make sense of the visions which all trace back to the one place where her father has forbid her to go: Silent Hill. But when her father goes missing, Heather and Vincent head to the ash covered town and discover a religious sect, deformed beings, and a creepy little girl that seems to be the key to everything.
Let me just say that I made that story sound downright minimal in comparison to what you’re in store for. What if I told you there is also a crazy uncle who speaks of alternate realities played by Malcolm McDowell, a sub-plot around how the mysterious girl in Silent Hill might be both Heather’s mother and sister, Carrie Ann Moss plays a leader of a cult who may not actually be their leader but looks like the pale faced and white haired villain from Hellboy II, and a medallion that needs to have a second half to work properly even though its power is never completely understood. Characters and plot points are thrown around in leisurely conversations as if that’s a normal thing to do. One sequence in particular involving Heather and Vincent driving to Silent Hill would benefit severely from a MST3000 audio track. To top it all off, all of these ideas are loosely connected through some of the most sophomoric and painfully awkward dialogue imaginable. Thankfully, things kick off with some exciting visuals and we don’t discover the wretched script till a little later. In the beginning of the film, Heather is wandering in a dream like state through a circus of horrors that gives viewers a sense of the carnival ride the film strives to take the viewer on. After the imaginative opening scene, things start to take a turn for the worse as we are meant to relate to the wooden characters on screen. I’m not sure if it was an intentional homage or not, but Heather has a series of nightmares in the middle of her normal life that recall that of Heather Langenkamp’s character in Nightmare on Elm St. This nod seems more cheap than anything and serves as just filler till Heather eventually enters Silent Hill.
Finally – after almost an hour – we get to visit the infamous town and are treated to the highlight of the theatrical ride. A few establishing shots set-up the creepy town we have come to know from the previous film. Bodies are tied to spikes in the middle of the town square and the interiors show a beautiful rust colored world of decay. Heather proceeds to float from one room of the haunted house-esque building to the next with each one attempting to out shock the former; keep in mind – they may look creepy but they are never scary. All of the rooms amp up the nightmarish imagery and actually present more impressive visuals than the first film. However, where Christopher Gans’ film was able to build dread, Michael J. Basset’s sequel wants to entertain and shock. Veteran horror fans will be far from shocked though when treated to demons with vaginal looking mouths and people with saw blades sticking out of their heads which all seem lifted out of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. The most inventive sequence doesn’t involve deformed beings or creatures at all. Heather gets trapped in a storage room filled to the ceiling with plastic wrapped mannequin parts. What comes creeping from the shadows in this memorable scene is by far the most original creation in this otherwise tiresome retread of images and thrown together ideas.
One of my colleagues who also writes for this site, once said that Silent Hill feels at times like a Lucio Fulci film. Much like the films of the “Italian Godfather of Gore,” Silent Hill:Revelation 3D includes laughable dialogue, wooden performances (especially from Kit Harington), and a handful of scenes that may or may not make the entire film worth a watch. The 3D adds an extra level of cheese as it’s mainly used to throw stuff and stick knives in the face of the viewer. Looking back, both films in this videogame series each have their own strengths but mostly consist of faults. While the original took itself too seriously and gets lost when telling a story, this new one strives to be more fun with a story that is ridiculously bloated. The world of Silent Hill in both films is a visually stimulating, nightmarish, fever-dream of a place that should best be explored as its name would imply: On mute.