Christophe Gans’ adaptation of Konami’s Silent Hill video game was a bit like an Italian horror film from the early '80s: compellingly surreal, yet muckily plotted (think Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond).
Its sequel, Michael J. Bassett’s Silent Hill: Revelation, is more like watching an anime film you found on VHS in the '90s that your mamma wouldn’t want you to watch. The plot of the film, now available on Blu-ray and DVD, is a lot of badly acted nonsense, but it sure is purty to look at with its dynamic color pallet and nutty monsters.
Sean Bean returns as Christopher Da Silva, who we learn has been moving from town to town under the alias “Harry Mason” with his daughter, Heather (Adelaide Clemens) to avoid something we aren’t quite sure about. Heather’s nightmares call her to come to a town called Silent Hill, a call her father warns her against heeding. But when he is suddenly kidnapped, it’s clear she must go to Silent Hill to find Christopher and learn what the secrets he’s been hiding from her in the process.
Something resembling damnation ensues.
The problem with the Silent Hill films is that they always mine the weakest plots of the games for material. The first film interprets the plot of the first game, which is one people liked because the atmosphere was so pants-shittingly scary, it made Capcom’s Resident Evil games look tame. Players weren’t so much invested in the plot, which had an interesting jumping-off point, but where Konami chose to go with it merely made the mystery of the town less interesting.
Silent Hill: Revelation uses the story from Silent Hill 3, which acted as a sequel to the first game. The game Silent Hill 2 had nothing in common with its predecessor in terms of plot, save for the setting. It’s also the best game in the series because it doesn’t deal with silly doomsday cults or vengeful children. It instead depicts Silent Hill as a beacon that draws those in mourning and suffering, a Hell isolated from God’s presence.
The game's main character is an Orphic figure looking for his dead wife, and the people he meets are lost souls similar to his, searching for something they can never have. It’s a story that would make a memorable horror film. But nobody likes a whiny fanboy, and I shouldn’t be complaining that Silent Hill: Revelation is not the movie I want it to be.
What it is, though, is a fleshy mess that has enough crazy anarchic horror goofballery to skate by. It’s one of those movies where it feels like at any given moment a crazy Clive Barker-style monster could pop out of nowhere and chow down on someone’s spine for a snack. That sort of dread made the movie occasionally stressful to endure in a way I want from something like this (and rarely get), but it’s also too reliant on shocks to rise above the status of just okay genre junk.
This film’s predecessor had a thick, oppressive atmosphere that made it somewhat memorable despite the meandering plot. The only great thing about Revelation is the haunting score by Jeff Danna and Akira Yamaoka, the latter being the composer of the music for the games, almost all of which have soundtracks worth tracking down.
Danna and Yamaoka recycle a lot of material from the games, but it’s music that isn’t worth trying to top. The original songs Yamaoka did for this film even made me run to iTunes for the soundtrack immediately after watching the film.
The Blu-ray I was sent to review is the 2D version, and the worst thing about this movie is that the shots designed for 3D now look wildly out of place. 3D was made for trash, so I have no problem with its application on a movie like this, but it ultimately detracts from the home viewing experience (to date I have never watched a movie in 3D on a television).
The only special features to speak of are a trailer and a very short, and quite worthless, behind-the-scenes featurette, which includes the usual promo puff-piece kind of talk that amounts to squat. When you hear actors and actresses describing a horror movie as “psychological,” it sets off the ol’ bullshit detector.