After being taken out of the twisted nightmare of Silent Hill, Heather (Adelaide Clemens) and her father Harry (Sean Bean) go on the run for several years, afraid that the a cult from the town will come for her. When her father goes missing, Heather has to return to Silent Hill to confront it, and along with new friend Vincent (Kit Harington), hopes to free her family and herself of the place which had done so much to harm them.
Silent Hill: Revelation arrives somewhat unexpectedly, if only because for a long time it looked like the “original” film would be the only cinematic entry. The Christophe Gans-directed horror is reasonably well-regarded as an atmospheric piece which looked to actually scare, in contrast to the Resident Evil films that went in a more action-oriented direction. In the intervening years, there hasn’t been much clamour for a sequel and without the original writer/director team behind this new one, things look a little in-flux. The presence of Michael J. Bassett is a welcome one, his likeable Solomon Kane of a couple of years ago showing a solid amount of cinematic flair on a low budget.
Odd would be a word which could quite handily encompass Silent Hill – Revelation. In almost every way there is something off-kilter about the film, sometimes certainly intended, much of the time obviously not. One thing Bassett certainly does know how to do is crank up the weird visuals, and while too much of the film is given to characters spouting exposition at our lead, almost in a “walk up to the character and press X to talk to them” kind of way, there are certainly moments which could successfully give people nearer the more “15″ rated age demographic a scare. One sequence involving a mannequin monster certainly increase my heart rate for a little while.
What could have helped make the film more effective as a horror though is if any of the scenes made all that much sense. Even in the context of this alternate world, the threats Heather faces seem to be chucked in at random. Why are there nurses with bums for faces? They look scary, that’s why. Why does the mannequin monster have weird flappy teeth? It’s gross, that’s why. While, as I mentioned, there’s plenty of exposition about souls being torn apart, cults and magical medallions, there’s never any real throughline as to why this haunted world contains these monsters, and in a way this takes the threat away.
There’s no escaping the fact that the story feels made up on the spot. While the first act is fairly straightforward, by the time we get to Silent Hill itself things quickly get fudged. The “bad guy” is a bad person but at the same time there’s another bad group of characters who want the bad guy offed but for their own bad purposes, while Heather also has to discover who she truly is, usually by running round and being scared. Malcolm McDowell and Carrie-Anne Moss turn up for a couple of scenes to ham it up before a final “boss fight”; I am still at a loss to explain what happened here and why. In an effort to pretend there’s an actual narrative at work, writer/director Bassett has instead created a monster himself, and while I took some joy from the sheer nuttiness of it all, it never once feels like something which should have actually been made.
In the lead, Adelaide Clemens essentially looks like Michelle Williams’ younger sister and fittingly puts in a Dawson’s Creek-worthy job here. Kit Harrington struggles with an American accent as well as one of the least surprising character arcs ever, but the turkey award here goes to Sean Bea,n whose Harry character is so intensely and awkwardly played that even his voicemail greeting plays as a gruff “It’s me, leave a message”.
This film has pretty much bombed in the US and it’s not hard to see why. But while it is essentially bobbins, there are occasional moments in the film which caught my attention, and compared with many horror films from 2012, that can be considered a vague success.