Movie Review: “Silent Hill: Revelation”

ImageAll horror movies are somebody’s vision of Hell, but few are set in as convincing a vision as the “Silent Hill” films.

It’s a ghost town where an underground coal mine fire keeps the ash falling like carcinogenic snow.

All the abandoned cars are AMC Pacers and Chevrolet Chevettes and El Caminos.

It’s in West Virginia.

And the faceless demons, executioners, the newly butchered victims and the waiting-to-be-butchered? They’re bonuses.

The movies about this satanic slaughterhouse are where once great, or at least promising actors, go to collect a check.

Rahda Mitchell once starred in a Woody Allen picture. But since the first “Silent Hill,” well… Sean Bean’s been condemned this cinema purgatory as well. And with “Silent Hill: Revelation,” Malcolm McDowell and Carrie-Anne Moss join the damned. Deborah Kara Unger doesn’t escape this hell, either.

The new “Hill” is more or less as striking as the earlier one. There’s a godawful script filled with references to “The Order” and “The Brethren,” who may have the other half of “The Seal” which they may keep in “The Sanctuary.” Or was it “The Asylum”?

I can’t imagine diving into this cut-rate franchise without having at least a hint of the back story. Then again, I’ve seen the first one and darned if I can figure out if that helps.

Writer-director Michael J. Bassett, who got the much-delayed flop “Solomon Kane” into theaters earlier this fall, serves up tasty dialogue exchanges like this one, between two cops who discover a body and a bloody woman’s coat.

First cop — “Found a jacket. His blood’s on it.”

Second cop — Let’s get that to forensics. See whose blood is on it.”

Second cop’s not listening to first cop. And when the director’s the screenwriter, there’s nobody to proofread his boo-boos.

Mitchell appears in flashbacks, helping her husband (Bean) and daughter (now played by Adelaide Clemens) escape.

Daughter Heather, who used to go by Sharon and assorted other names, is on the move. Dad takes them from city to city, dodging the beasts without faces. But they always catch up.

This time, a private eye (Martin Donovan) has shortened the process. Heather has barely had time to lecture her new high school classmates “I won’t IM you or Facebook friend you or tweet you” when the monsters show up. She has visions about them, waking and sleeping nightmares.

She knows she must return to Silent Hill. Even though mom always warned her, “Don’t got to Silent Hill.”

Dad’s been kidnapped. Forgetting her rule about being standoffish and not trusting anybody, she convinces a classmate (Kit Harington) to take her there.

With a name like “Adelaide,” you know the fetching Ms. Clemens is Australian. Perhaps that explains the Canadian accent she trips into here. Bean takes a couple of shots at a Southern drawl, but realizes “Second sequel? Screw it.”

Best line? The teens talk Silent Hill history and one reveals to the other that it was built on — guess what?

“EVERYbody knows, ‘NEVER build on an ancient Indian burial ground!”

Indeed.

Bassett’s vision of Hell here isn’t appreciably different from the one he served up in “Solomon Kane.” Yes, he has an eye. No, he has no ear. But a few more movies like these two, a fellow could get pigeon-holed.

Put this much effort into bringing your idea of Hell to the screen, film fans will start calling you Satan. And not in a good way.

MPAA Rating: R for violence and disturbing images, some language and brief nudity

Cast: Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Carrie-Anne Moss .

Credits: Written and directed by Michael J. Bassett. An Open Road release.

Running time:1:33

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15 Responses to Movie Review: “Silent Hill: Revelation”

  1. Eh... says:

    There was only one other silent hill movie. This is the only sequel. It was based on a series of video games that were much better in terms of scares and story.

  2. Me... says:

    Although i agree with you on that movie, i think you made a mistake when you quoted the cops.
    The first cop doesn`t say “His blood’s on it.” , he says “There`s blood on it” . And with that, its no mistake, neither by the actors, nor by the director, and the scene makes sense

    • Oh? Did you take notes? I did. I’m not saying you’re wrong. But I noticed the line because it stood out as “off,” and wrote it down, on the spot. Which is why it’s in the review.

  3. James says:

    He does actually say “There’s is blood on it”. Unless they’ve relaunched an edited version of the movie – you must have misheard. But anyhow, I completely agree with your review.

    There is just too much wrong with this movie. The CGI is incredibly poor, it is afterall 2013 now. The fast plot development and the incredibly short runtime, just doesn’t go alongside the feel of the gameplay. Movie adaptation of any game, is of course a challenge. But seriously – the constant need to break into dialogue – or even a monologue (the letter from her father) in order to explain the plot is a HUGE warning sign.

    I sincerely urge everybody – to be aware of the fact that the game series are completely different. This movie doesn’t have the right to be titled “Silent Hill”

    • Well, I take notes in the dark. So you may be right. But it stuck out to me as “God, that’s a stupid line. I’m copying that down.” You heard it differently, or made the correction in your mind.
      And since there’s no way I am watching that again…

  4. Kenny says:

    This review is absolute trash. The spelling and grammar is terrible for one, if your going to be so harsh on the scripting of a movie atleast spell check your own wording. Another is there was only one film before the release of Revelation, not multiples. Also there were what? 8 games total made all together, half of which were before the 2006 release of the original Silent Hill movie. None of which you have even heard of. This entire series has a very deep, intertwining plot that needs a little knowledge on to be able to grasp. As for the comments saying the CGI was unacceptable for 2012, Silent Hill Revelation was made for 3D in theaters, the quality never looks the same after a 3D release. Not to mention how unique the idea of the story line actually is when you know that there is an actual town in West Virginia called Silent Hill that was founded by a group of witch hunters. The town really did burn down and is now closed due to the fire burning beneath, within the coal mines. Over all I highly recommend the trilogy to anyTRUE horror fan, especially fans of the original Silent Hill games. Either way, I respect your opinion on this review, I just strongly disagree.

    • I don’t think I said how many Silent Hill films there are.
      There is no “Silent Hill, West Va.”
      Plainly it was based on Centralia, Pa.
      “http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060922073334AAWAmYB
      By the way, there’s no such place as Hell, and there are no ghosts, etc., either.
      “Spelling and grammar?” What are you referring to, Kenny?
      “You’re,” Kenny. “You’re” is the word you’re looking for. As in “You’re not bothering to look this stuff up before popping off, are you?”

    • James says:

      Firstly, I can’t see anything wrong with the spelling and grammer of this article. Please make precise references. Secondly, you can’t expect the average viewer to have played all 8 games and have a thorough back knowledge. I agree there is some negligence in not being aware of the games, but even so, that wouldn’t influence his review. You seem to think that he is criticising the entire silent hill franchise. His article is in reference to this one particular movie, which in all honestly, fails in all aspects.

      “Silent Hill Revelation was made for 3D in theaters, the quality never looks the same after a 3D release” – The producer should’ve come out during my viewing and said that. Geez – i would’ve totally understood and been alright with it.

      You seem to be a fan of the games. Perhaps that distorts your ability to make an objective criticism on this movie. Please make precise references of what you actually enjoyed with this movie. Perhaps I’m too subjective, but I can’t see how this movie succeeds in any manner, Except for bearing the title “Silent hill” which lured me into seeing it.

  5. kiryu117 says:

    I’m going to make this simple. Play the game before seeing a movie based on it. I thought the movie was awesome

    • The movie has to stand on its own as a story, written for the screen and told by good actors. It isn’t. Loving the game lets you forgive more sins than me.

      • kiryu117 says:

        I thought it stood very well on its own story because not all of it was from the game. I thought the actors did very well in my opinion, but I’m viewing the movie from an artistic standpoint. Also it’s not a matter of loving the game I just think that before people review a movie based on a game franchise that they play one of the games (if they haven’t played them already) first so that reviewers can have an understanding of why the story was done that way.

      • It is a good looking version of “Hell,” I’ll grant you that, a particular fixation of this director.

  6. J.K. says:

    Without having seen the movie, while also having seen a variety of other movies based off of games, I would probably agree with you that yes, the movie as a whole lacks a lot and the fact that they have to explain it does hinder the experience a ton. But do keep in mind that (from what I can tell) these movies cater to the fans of the game series and nothing more. The fans are likely to enjoy the movie because they like seeing a game brought to life, but if you have no prior experience with the Silent Hill series (aside from the first movie), I can almost guarantee that the movie would come off as a big flop. I’m not giving this movie the benefit of the doubt and saying it’s good or anything; but movies like this are, as I’ve said, meant for the people who play the games. And yes, while the Resident Evil movie series does generate good reviews and all, it is notably one of the only series of movies that has done ‘well’ for being based off of a game series. I could only imagine that it is incredibly hard to bring the experience of a game into a movie without copying the story-line exactly. I’m sure the constant breaks to dialogue (as you mentioned) are the director’s way of cluing the rest of the people in on the plot (who are not fans of the game series), and while yes, a movie should not have to explain itself, I feel that it captures the feeling of the games very well.

    You see, in the games, your character very often finds ‘hints’ or ‘notes’ to help direct him/her to the next destination. I believe the director was trying to carry that over to the movie and give it the same general feel, but I would agree, generally in the movie business, that’s a definite “NO” when it comes to plot.

    All in all, from what you’ve described it seems like, to anyone who isn’t a fan of the series, the movie is definitely a flop. However, to anyone who IS in fact a fan, would understand that this movie is more or less a recreation of the game.

    • Resident Evil movies have been generally derided, from the start. Novel or comic, game or TV series, no matter what something is based on, it has to stand on its own as a movie to work. Movies are narration. Games have only a hint of that.

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