Review: Silent Hill - Revelation / Cert: 18 / Director: Michael J. Bassett / Screenplay: Michael J. Bassett / Starring: Adelaide Clemens, Kit Harington, Sean Bean, Carrie-Anne Moss / Release Date: Out Now
In many ways the groundwork has already been laid for Michael J. Bassett’s sequel, Silent Hill: Revelation, as it follows very closely the tone and style of Christophe Gans’ original. Everything is present and correct: the insidious atmosphere, freaky monster designs, amazing photography, skewed angles that reference the video game, even the corny dialogue and shaky performances from usually solid actors. So how much of a revelation is this?
The story picks up a few years after events in Silent Hill (2006) and takes inspiration from Silent Hill 3. An older Sharon is posing as a girl named Heather Mason and her dad Chris/Harry (Sean Bean) protecting his adopted daughter from a vindictive, ever-pursuing cult that has forced the pair to move around America as drifters.
Heather/Sharon, played with pluck by Adelaide Clemens, is haunted by visions both day and night and acts like a first-class nutjob tripping out at any given moment. This brittle sense of reality feels more like A Nightmare on Elm Street than anything related to Silent Hill and it is easily one of the weaker aspects of the film’s ambience.
What saves this quite unnecessary but fun sequel is stunning cinematography by horror specialist Maxime Alexandre and equally brilliant production design. There are ghoulish monsters a-plenty and sinister set pieces to prop up the duller moments, including a return for Pyramid Head. The hulking beast gets an immense and bone-chilling scene – complete with booming score – as he walks down a corridor lopping off the arms of incarcerated lunatics in an asylum.
One of the major criticisms levelled at the first film was its epic running time and stoner pace. Silent Hill: Revelation clocks in at a brisk ninety-five minutes. Plot points move quickly and things roll in a straightforward, no-nonsense manner.
The Silent Hill films boast a rich and inventive backstory involving a bizarre cult, a child demon and sorcery in modern-day America. Yet one of the major failings is the sometimes cack-handed use of such material. A viewer, during any part of the film, should not be thinking, ‘I’d rather be playing the game’. Are the films tied too completely to the video game source out of wrong-headed respect?
Silent Hill: Revelation is to be enjoyed for the nightmarish tone and those warped creatures that lurk in the dark. A spider-like monster, made entirely of mannequin models, is as inventive and surreal as anything dreamed up by Dalí.
The ultimate revelation for poor conflicted Heather is never strongly conveyed and there exists a somnambulist quality to the movie that is either really clever or merely a product of weak conception as a sleepwalking continuation of the series.