Wednesday, March 13, 2013
X-MEDIA WEDNESDAYS - SILENT HILL: REVELATION
This week, I sat down and watched Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (though confession: I did not watch it in 3D). I have been a fan of the early Silent Hill games since the first game, and I actually thought the first film was halfway decent. It missed the mark in a lot of ways, but it managed to hit a lot of the right notes. From the trailers, I had high hopes for Revelation, but the early reviews were not kind at all. Still, I felt that I should formulate my opinion on it, and so I gave it a watch.
Ugh. That was a mistake. To be fair, the movie was not as bad as the reviews I'd read and heard, but it's still not a very good movie. It almost broke my heart to see such a great cast floundering in such bad dialogue. I expected Sean Bean to return from the original, but seeing Malcolm McDowell and Carrie-Ann Moss spewing such terrible lines made me almost thankful that both of them were near unrecognizable in their makeup. And Kit Harington? I love Game Of Thrones, but I'm not sure I'll be able to look at Jon Snow the same again after this. I guess I just have to give him credit for working with what he was given.
Silent Hill: Revelation 3D focuses mainly on the first half of Silent Hill 3, and surprisingly well at that. They manage to get around some naming conventions with a little trick of false identities, effectively merging the game's plotline with that of the first movie. Heather Mason has been having terrible nightmares, set in a twisted amusement park. When her adopted father Harry is kidnapped, she learns that her shrouded past ties in with the town of Silent Hill, and she must go there to save him. Along the way she will meet new friends, go on fun adventures, and learn a little something about love. Or watch people get horrifically mutilated by twisted, insane monsters. Either or. Y'know.
The first problem I have with this movie is the same problem I had with the first one: STOP TRYING TO MAKE SILENT HILL MAKE SENSE. Seriously. Even when the games explained things, it still left you scratching your head, saying "Huh?" This mystery is what makes Silent Hill terrifying. The movies try way too hard to lay it all out and completely explain everything, demystifying the whole experience. Silent Hill is a "living" town, a sentient demon realm unto itself. It changes based on you, becoming your own personal Hell and tormentor. It's not the same for everyone who sets foot inside its borders. Stop giving it rules and explanations and blaming the whole thing on Alessa.
For that matter, stop giving us too much of what the film calls "The Darkness". The games never had a name for it. It just was, and it happened when you were at your weakest or when you weren't expecting it. Silent Hill itself is supposed to be scary as shit on its own. The deeper Silent Hill, with the rusted chain link and dried blood and all of that, should be used sparingly. The movie spends what feels like the majority of its time in this deeper Silent Hill, and it desensitizes the audience. It's like eating a meal made entirely out of cake; too much is not always a good thing.
I didn't hate the entire film. As with the first one, it does manage to hit some notes right. They took great pains to stay visually faithful to Silent Hill 3, particularly in the amusement park area. Those big, stuffed bunny heads were exactly like they were in the game, and every bit as inexplicably sinister. Lead actress Adelaide Clemens looked exactly like Heather did in the game, right down to her wardrobe. And I will give the director credit, the entire Asylum scene felt more like a Silent Hill game than anything else in either film.
I really liked that they kept in the mannequin room from the game, but was a little disappointed that they didn't feature the scare from that scene (although maybe they didn't, because people would see it coming). Still, the scare they gave us of the girl being transformed just fell completely flat for me. I think the mannequin spider monster was phenomenal, and would have been incredibly effective...if they'd shown us less of it. If given one good look, followed by fleeting glimpses, I think it would have been a genuinely scary scene. Unfortunately, the director seemed to feel like the audience just had to see this cool monster they came up with. Look at it. LOOK AT IT! See how cool it is? Look at it more! Take a good long look at it! Kinda ruined the scene.
Sadly, the movie failed a lot more often than it succeeded. Rather than have the plot unfold naturally and work in exposition where it was necessary, we instead get one scene with Heather and Vincent (Kit Harington, whose name I always think I'm spelling wrong with its single "r") in a motel room, dumping all of the exposition in one go. The Malcolm McDowell monster is looks ridiculous, like a low-rent Nemesis from Resident Evil. And for some reason, the movie decided that Pyramid Head is actually a protagonist that comes in and saves the day on more than one occasion. But...also an executioner? What the hell were they thinking there? And why was he/it piloting the merry-go-round?
Ending spoiler (highlight to read):
In the completely nonsensical ending, Sharon/Heather and Alyssa hug it out like an afterschool special, and then Pyramid Head saves the day by fighting off a cenobyte. I wish I was kidding. Even stranger still? This is like the one movie where Sean Bean DOESN'T die. What the hell, man?
I often said about the first film that they tried so hard to stay faithful to the games that they forgot to make it actually scary. Revelation feels like they heard that, and tried to reclaim the scares, but couldn't juggle it well with staying faithful. For each thing the movie gets right, it gets two or three more things completely wrong, and usually the wrongs are the more significant aspects. This is by far not the worst video game movie I've ever seen, and it was not quite as bad as the reviews I'd read prior to seeing it, but it's still not really worth your time. The Silent Hill games have gone to shit over the past couple of years, so I guess why should I expect anything more out of the movies?