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Silent Hill: Revelation 3D Review

In many ways, video game adaptations feel like the final frontier of filmmaking now that comic films have gone the way of Christopher Nolan and Joss Whedon. Some have done well financially, but none of them can be called "quality." The first Silent Hill released back in 2006 to mixed (at best) reviews, with praise for it's visual appeal but pans of the script. Six years later, we have Silent Hill: Revelation 3D and it'd appear that history repeats itself to an extreme degree.
Years after the events of the first film, Revelation opens on Sharon Da Silva (Adelaide Clemens) and her father Christoper (Sean Bean) as they move to a new town and assume new identities as Heather and Harry Mason. Quickly approaching her 18th birthday, Heather is plagued with nightmares of Silent Hill, a town her father warns her never to investigate. As she attempts to assimilate with her new identity, her reality begins to shift into nightmarish dimensions filled with violent images before snapping back to normalcy.
Eventually, Harry disappears, leaving only a single message written in blood behind: "Come to Silent Hill." With the help of her fellow classmate, Vincent (Kit Harington), Heather sets out for the titular town to find her father, unaware that Alessa, the dark spirit released by Rose Da Silva (Radha Mitchell) in the first film, has taken over the town, bringing darkness and monsters in her wake.
Writer/director Michael J. Bassett (Solomon Kane) clearly has a love for the game series thanks to several images peppered throughout the film up that borrow heavily from the series. It is physical imagery that has always been the greatest strength of the Silent Hill universe, whether it be game or film. Silent Hill is a world riddled with twisted monsters reflecting the human psyche and steam-punk grunge locales in need of new lighting. The sequel does retain the atmosphere of the original, if only one that feels a touch diluted thanks to the clearly limited budget; Revelation was made for around $20 million against the original's $50 million.
The film does a modest job of practical effects/makeup work, notably with Pyramid Head and the Nurses, but mostly relies on lazy CGI for such things as the transitions between realities and Heather's encounter with a mannequin-esque spider demon that looks so laughably dated it rivals the worst Van Helsing has to offer. Regardless, Revelation maintains the series priority of unsettling imagery, even in the most innocuous things, like birthday candles and crazy guys on the bus. Bassett is to be commended for taking aspects of life you can see everyday and make them eerie without putting them in a hell dimension (though he does that eventually).
What he should be flogged for is the script, which is as much of a mess (if not more so) than it's 2006 predecessor. Running at just over 95 minutes, it's clear Bassett wants to keep the show moving along, but at the risk of sacrificing interesting characters for scene after scene of inane dialogue, with Vincent's attempts to romance Heather being a painful standout in a list of bad examples.For a simple setup, the story is overly-complicated; attempting to tell the stories of Heather, Harry, Vincent, Alessa and the cult within Silent Hill (responsible for Alessa's existence) all at once. It's not that the story doesn't have potential to be decent or even good, with such themes as coming of age, cultists, family, etc, it's just that the script never maintains focus and is paper-thin on all fronts as a result. Clemens is a likable lead and delivers a performance that won't make you cringe. Unfortunately, she isn't offered much in terms of supporting characters, notably Harington's Vincent, the only other "real" character whose backstory and complete 180-turn within it is meant to be believed after knowing Heather for literally one day. Carrie Anne-Moss and Malcom McDowell are wasted (and awful) as Claudia and Leonard Wolf, having three scenes combined with little force or effect on the story. In fact, Revelation cannot make up it's mind as to who the antagonist is: is it Claudia? Leonard? Alessa? Pyramid Head? Bassett? With no clear convictions of who to fear, we're never left with a challenge to be conquered.
It doesn't help that the movie itself is not scary. It attempts to go for a few standard "jump" scares, but these are almost subdued compared to traditional jump tactics employed in horror. Revelation's lone strength is unsettling an audience but not frightening it. Several sequences meant to be tense are likely to be forgotten moments after leaving the theater.
Revelation is a forgettable movie and inferior in almost everywhere to an already sub-par film series. It is not enough to gouge your eyes out (in Silent Hill, they have folks who do that for you) but it is not enough to warrant a return trip, unless you really are a fan. Sure, Bassett's visual take on the trials of Heather Mason have their own flair and will play with your head, but unfortunately little is done to bring any level of depth to the characters and overall hell that is Silent Hill.


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