Monday, November 5, 2012

Silent Hill: Revelation

I really wanted to like Silent Hill: Revelation, but it has way too many problems to recommend it to filmgoers or even fans of the game series this franchise is based on.

First off, I want to say that I truly adore the original film that came out in 2006 (you can read my review by clicking here). Regardless of its slow pacing and some cruddy dialogue, it was tense and thrilling with excellently developed characters who find themselves among some truly disturbing situations. I watch it at least once a year to remind myself that you can make a great flick out of a video game.
Using the third game in the series as it’s basis, this sequel starts off on the right track by explaining exactly what happened at the close of its predecessor and how Sharon is back in the real world after being trapped in limbo with her mother. Now in her late teens, Sharon (Adelaide Clemens), now going by the name Heather, and her father (Sean Bean) have been moving around the country in an attempt to stay away from the residents of Silent Hill that they fear might be coming for them. When her father goes missing she embarks on a journey back into the cursed town to find him and uncover exactly why she keeps having disturbing nightmares about her real mother, the demonic Alessa.

Some really shitty dialogue aside, the film’s first 30 minutes are pretty good. The leads are developed well, the new rules are established and Sharon/Heather is portrayed in such a way to make her instantly sympathetic to the audience. The problem is that her love interest, Vincent (Kit Harington), is clich├ęd in the extreme and his motivations are apparent from the moment he first appears on-screen.
The acting isn’t anything to write home about either. Adelaide Clemens tries her best to pull off her character’s dual nature, but she isn’t able to rise above the script’s shortcomings and the overly melodramatic dialogue (“Two halves coming together!”). She’s also not able to pull off an American accent convincingly, and the same goes for her co-star Kit Harington. He’s great on Game of Thrones, but here he’s pretty awful.

Once the story moves on to Silent Hill, which for budgetary reasons stays in icky grime mode for the entire film, things pick up with a pretty freaky chase scene involving a spider made up of living mannequin parts and Red Pyramid making a few awesome appearances before introducing us to the piece’s true villain, Claudia, played by a criminally underused Carrie-Anne Moss. It’s here that the film goes off the rails and pretty much lost me. Claudia is introduced to the audience in such a way that we really don’t know who she is at all. She says a few random threatening lines and disappears until the finale. I’m assuming her part was cut down for time, but in the process the film loses something… plot. Lots of exposition is thrown around by various returning characters from the first movie, some are all new (Malcolm McDowell’s oddly confusing scene), none of it interesting or integral to anything. Deborah Kara Unger pops up again as Alessa’s mother for no good reason except to throw a cryptic message Sharon’s way.
For reasons I don’t know Alessa is still part of this story. Her revenge was carried out at the finale of the first film, therefore there really is no reason for her to be featured here. It’s a side thought for the most part since this film doesn’t really focus on any one villain for longer than 5 minutes total. When her storyline is wrapped up it makes little logical sense and is underwhelming in the extreme. The same goes for the big finale with Claudia. Sure it looks cool, but why she is what she is isn’t explained at all, and therefore I looked upon the scene as just pure 3D spectacle. Sure is was cool to see Red Pyramid kicking ass and taking names, but out of the last half of the movie that’s the only thing that I can say I truly enjoyed.

The main issue here is that the film feels heavily edited. There are jarring cutaways during important scenes (the end of the mannequin spider chase/Claudia’s introduction), plot points are glossed over with no reasons given (Alessa’s defeat, who Claudia really is) and the whole film just has a rushed feeling to it. Before I knew it the movie is over and I had a hard time trying to piece together what I’d just seen. There are pictures online of Sharon seeing her mother in an elevator, but it sure isn’t in the movie (see below). I hope there is an Extended Cut on video, because the flick screams that there was a hell of a lot of stuff that was left out just to cut down the run time.
The lame set-up for another sequel left me cold. It’s not connected to any of the characters and looks like (if there are more sequels) the series might move in another direction. If in the right hands, like original’s director Christophe Gans, I could get excited about it. But after seeing this limp sequel, as well as its tiny box office returns, I don’t think that’s going to happen. Let this franchise die here and another take over.

Where’s that Bioshock movie?!

2 out of 5

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