I'm a lover of all things film & I do my best to be as objective as possible when reviewing/analyzing the medium I hold so dear.
Taking A Look Back…
There is a video game I am personally a fan of called Dead By Daylight, which recently gave a small resurgence to the Silent Hill franchise by including a new chapter pertaining to the property. Because of this fresh revisit to the Silent Hill title, I was inspired to re-watch the theatrical films that were released in 2006 and 2012. Without any prior knowledge of the Silent Hill video game license, I thought it would be fun to give a critique from my own perspective of the movies as I have never truly played any of the video games before.
- 'Silent Hill' (2006) A Cursed Movie Review
One of many video game-movie adaptations in a long line of disappointments. Although, is 2006's 'Silent Hill' actually a diamond in the ruff? How about we talk about it and see what value we can find here?!
With the first flick, I remembered my initial reaction being relatively underwhelming as I originally found it to be more ‘style over substance.' Upon my latest viewing of the 2006 Silent Hill feature, my first time watching it again in almost a decade, I was pleasantly surprised with gorgeously gruesome visuals and a house of horrors adventure that I had a lot of fun with. So much so that when it came time to pop in the 2012 sequel, Silent Hill: Revelation, I was legitimately excited to hopefully find another surprise entry like the first movie. Especially since I remember that when I watched the sequel back in 2012, I thought it was a hot pile of garbage. Now, after finally revisiting the sequel, I can say with full certainty that it is still hot garbage!
As I have already declared previously, I have no prior knowledge of the Silent Hill video games whatsoever. Therefore, I will not be comparing and/or contrasting the similarities or differences between the two properties. This is not a review of how the 2012 feature holds up as an adaptation, this will be critiqued strictly on its own merits as a form of cinematic entertainment. Nothing more, nothing less. So I apologize to anyone who may be searching for a critic who would discuss more on the source material, but unfortunately that won’t be happening in this article. Please do not read my review from the point of view of someone who has played any of the video games, but rather a general moviegoer.
Silent Hill: Revelation - The Plot
Heather Mason (Adelaide Clemens), formally known as Cheryl Mason and Sharon Da Silva and Alessa Gillespie, is haunted by strange visions of a town called Silent Hill. Currently she remains in hiding with her adoptive father Harry Mason (Sean Bean), formally known as Christopher Da Silva, as they move from place to place while taking on different identities to stay unnoticed by those searching for them.
Now their demons have come back to haunt them, as residents of Silent Hill have kidnapped Heather/Cheryl/Sharon/Alessa’s adoptive father and it is up to her to rescue him. On her journey to save her father, Heather/Cheryl/Sharon/Alessa is drawn into a strange alternate dimension of hellish degrees where nightmarish monsters plague every corner.
For anyone currently reading my review who isn’t aware of my newfound admiration for the 2006 film’s narrative containing a solidly unpredictable journey reminiscent of an Alice in Wonderland tale meets Hellraiser, know that was one of the movie’s biggest strengths and defining characteristics. All issues aside, the first movie provided an exciting world to explore with a cool and horrific monster to encounter continuously throughout the runtime with a perfectly brisk pace. And it absolutely pains me to say that there isn’t a single ounce seen from those qualities anywhere within Revelation as it is an hour and a half long cluster-f*ck that somehow spends 95% of the runtime explaining everything yet nothing simultaneously. The first film is a living nightmare in one of the best ways a horror flick can be while the sequel is a nightmare of script writing in general.
Starting out on one of horror’s most obnoxious modern clichés to date, a dream sequence to kick off the trivial frights to be had while including one of the lamest jump scares I’ve ever seen in a movie; the moment I’m referring to is when our lead Heather/Cheryl/Sharon/Alessa is hiding from mysterious baddies hunting her down in a strange looking carnival, only for her to stare at what appears to be a dead person inside a giant bunny-rabbit costume. Just staring at the bunny head for a prolonged period of time as it is horribly telegraphed of what is obviously going to happen. She’ll keep staring and staring and staring as all audio drains out of the scene until “out of nowhere” the bunny head will turn to look at her with the loud boogedy-boo jump scare music stinger erupting into our eardrums. How freaking original!
Before anyone says anything, yes, I know the rabbit costume and carnival setting are references to the third game. Along with probably everything else I’ll be touching on in my review. I don’t give a sh*t. The movie still needs to be good, not a giant incoherent 90 minute reference.
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However, do not fret for anyone worried that the clichés will cease once the opening dream sequence has ended. No, no, no. Following the generic dream sequence is yet another fake-out mini dream sequence with yet another lame jump scare! I know, I know what everyone is thinking… “Yay! I’m so glad we’re extending this tired trope out even longer than necessary just so we can get as many failed attempts at scaring the audience as possible!” It’s what we’ve all been looking forward to, I’m sure. To be wildly disappointed in a film within the very first minute of screen time is truly what horror is all about, right? If only films like The Exorcist or The Shining would just get on Silent Hill: Revelation’s level of terror, then maybe they’d have something going for them. Pfft… “Masterpieces” my ass! Revelation is where it’s at, people!!
After the obligatory dream jump scare sequences, plus a lengthy bout of exposition dumping between father and daughter about information they already know, we now get our… “Explanation” of how Heather/Cheryl/Sharon/Alessa made it back from Silent Hill? So, if anyone remembers, the first movie closes on a slightly ambiguous and rather bleak note for our leads as they appear to be trapped in a ghostly alternate reality with no signs of returning back to their own. Apparently in order for the sequel’s screenplay to rectify this issue, the audience is thrusted sporadically into a flashback of Sean Bean being visited by the spirit of his wife through a mirror telling him how she found a magic thingy that will send their adopted daughter back to him.
Here is where our troubles begin and this scene is a shining example of where this movie goes horrendously wrong throughout the remainder. Awkwardly editing in a forced exposition splooge that actually raises more questions than answers. What is this magic seal? Where did Rose find this? How did she find this? How did she figure out how to use it and transport their daughter back to the realm of the living? How is Rose able to facetime through mirrors? Why couldn’t she transport with her daughter, aside from the fact that actress Radha Mitchell wanted nothing to do with this sequel? Who are these people she’s referring to that want their daughter? Because in the first movie, everyone who supposedly wanted her was killed off. That was practically the whole point of the 2006 movie was to get these people dead by the vengeful spirit of Alessa, right? So how the f*ck is she missing a few on the murder list?! It’s as though I’m missing an entire sequel in between the first and second movie!
Let the Cycle Commence!
At this point is the real start of this script’s formulaic routine; unloading tons of exposition that goes in one ear and out the other, then having our lead character either running away from something or towards something, which will inevitably result in a typical and cringe inducing telegraphing of jump scares. Wash, rinse, repeat. That is the entire movie and it is ridiculously tedious for it! Growing a tired and entirely stale screenplay to unfold over and over again, rather than ever supplying a single fright to be had. And most certainly not providing a coherent plot for that matter as we’re constantly on the go with overlong ramblings and annoying jump scares throughout.
Heather/Cheryl/Sharon/Alessa going to school involves a hobo jump scare, her having a rant at the classroom about her life’s story on moving from place to place, a hallway jump scare, and the introduction to a private detective subplot that goes absolutely nowhere real fast. Oh, we also can’t forget the inclusion of the young heartthrob love interest that wedges his way into our lead’s story. More on that later. By the way, none of what I just mentioned feels like any proper build up for tension or character development. It’s simply a bunch of useless information to cram down the viewer’s throat while lazily attempting to scare them with completely random sequences spliced into the nothingness going on.
Then after the one-class school day, Heather/Cheryl/Sharon/Alessa decides that it’s time to go to the mall and wait for her dad to pick her up. Only problem being that her dad gets himself kidnapped by a mysterious cult while Heather/Cheryl/Sharon/Alessa suffers from nightmarish visions as the private investigator from earlier, played by Martin Donovan, is tracking her down. After an onslaught of the headache worthy jump scare sequence, the P.I. corners Heather/Cheryl/Sharon/Alessa in the basement of the mall… Not sure why this girl thought going into a secluded dark room was the best route for evading her pursuer, but alright. Anyways, the P.I. begins to pretty much explain every single detail about how and why he’s there as he was hired on by the mysterious cult of Silent Hill to track her down. After the P.I. realized who they were and what their intentions were, he apparently continued to pursue Heather/Cheryl/Sharon/Alessa which resulted in revealing her location to the cult… Idiot.
Alright, back to the giant bouts of dialog that supposedly is supposed to explain everything only creating even more questions. How did the people trapped in the ghost dimension of Silent Hill hire a private detective? Why did they even bother hiring him? As it is revealed later on that Heather/Cheryl/Sharon/Alessa’s love interest, Vincent, is actually in cahoots with the Silent Hill cult, so what the hell use do they even have for an investigator searching for this girl when they have already seemingly found this girl?! Also, my biggest confusion on the matter, how the hell did they pay for this guy? What money are they making in the ghost world in order to pay for a private detective??!! Is the rent cheap in the afterlife? So many questions with no answers at all.
No worries though, we don’t have any time to ask these questions about Mr. P.I. since he’s killed off approximately twenty seconds later by a Cenobite assassin. I am so glad that this was a character that was introduced with such rich writing… After that important waste of screen time, we get yet another few minutes of Heather/Cheryl/Sharon/Alessa running away from spooky sh*t. Following suit immediately we’re right back on the exposition train between Heather/Cheryl/Sharon/Alessa and her new boy toy, Vincent. As though Heather/Cheryl/Sharon/Alessa didn’t just witness a murder and crazy ass hallucinations only moments prior as she becomes far more focused on chit chatting with the new stud in her life.
Normally in my reviews I try touching on one subject at a time; such as starting off discussing the story, moving along into the acting, the editing, and so on. In this case, I can’t wait that long because it needs to be said right now, both the characters of Heather/Cheryl/Sharon/Alessa and Vincent share absolutely no on screen chemistry with one another even remotely. Probably doesn’t help matters that actors Adelaide Clemens and Kit Harington are so unsuccessfully fighting to cover their Australian and British accents respectively. Because these two characters have little to no personality, are awkwardly stilted in their line delivery, and have zero romantic spark with one another I am constantly in dread of them speaking to each other as I’m stuck in a total dead zone of acting.
From what I understand, both are very talented actors with respectable work behind their careers… It’s too bad that no one would ever be able to tell from the performances going on in this abysmal game of ‘Who Can Do the Worst American Accent?’. Admittedly, I do feel guilty ripping into these two skilled actors as they clearly deserve better. Unfortunately I can only critique what I get from the selected film itself and not base my thoughts on any other examples when critiquing their craft. With that said, I do recommend seeking out other titles under both Clemens’s and Harrington’s filmography as they do show great work in front of the camera when the movie isn’t Silent Hill: Revelation.
Where I Draw the Line
A major reason why I have such an issue with these two leads, aside from the fact that they’re the leads and are failing at leading the picture, is that there are significant plot contrivances formed from their relationship within the screenplay. Initially we are led to believe that the Vincent character is a completely normal kid who is also new to town, like Heather/Cheryl/Sharon/Alessa, so he begins attempting to befriend her. That’s fine. Regardless of the concept not being well executed as the actors don’t share any romantic spark, the idea is still fine I guess. Then the movie forces the situation where Vincent so happens to be willing to help this total stranger he just met that very day, Heather/Cheryl/Sharon/Alessa, with escaping from the police and driving her to a faraway town where supposedly her father is being held captive.
Most, if not all, dudes in that exact situation who aren’t thinking with their d*ck would immediately say that the best thing to do is to consult with the police about how obviously her father has been kidnapped by a weird ass cult and they can deal with the rest. Nope, nothing of logic will be happening in this picture as we’re supposed to believe this guy is completely fine with an absurd plan to rescue her dad from a parallel dimension while on the run from the cops. Fine. Whatever. It’s stupid and highly illogical, but I’ll accept it because the screenwriter wants these two teens to bang. Fine. Although then shortly later comes the twist that Vincent was a resident of the ghost dimension of Silent Hill all along, but has fallen madly in love with Heather/Cheryl/Sharon/Alessa and knows that there is no way she’s as evil as his mom said she is… Now I’m drawing my line in the f*cking sand here. I call bull sh*t.
The Vincent Problem
First of all, Vincent is not in love with Heather/Cheryl/Sharon/Alessa; he simply wants to f*ck her. There is not a single line of dialog between these two characters that could ever convince me in a million years that they could even be friends, let alone are romantically interested in one another. No. They want to screw each other’s brains out and regret everything approximately nine months later. Don’t f*cking lie to me, movie!
Secondly, I’m supposed to believe this young male model looking dude who is constantly cracking jokes and references Facebook is actually from a ghost dimension where they are permanently trapped in the 1970s while terrorized daily by horrendous creatures who horrifically mutilate the inhabitants? Are you f*cking kidding me right now with this sh*t?! There are a lot of stupid concepts I can accept in the realms of horror and sci-fi, however this is impossible to digest. I don’t care how big one’s suspension of disbelief might be, if someone comes out of Revelation claiming they fully bought that Vincent had ever stepped foot in the hellish town of Silent Hill prior to this story taking place then they’re lying their ass off! If they believe it to be true then the same moviegoer must claim that Kyle Reese is just overreacting when it comes to Terminators.
Thirdly, how is it so easy to get out of Silent Hill in this movie and why don’t the people trapped in the ghost town just leave?? Seriously, the whole point of this strange purgatory was because a little girl was wronged and so she punished the town’s inhabitants by imprisoning them in this nightmare of another dimension where they could never escape. Yet somehow in this sequel, there are countless ways to get out of there. Multiple ways that the people of this town are fully aware of yet for whatever reason stay because… Reasons? I guess?! Yes, one of the forms of transporting themselves out of there involves bodily harm with an end result of a gnarly looking tattoo. But compared to being ripped apart piece by piece or have their skin torn from their body, I’d say the giant gross symbol on one’s chest is a small price to pay to get the hell out of there! Stupid. Absolutely f*cking stupid.