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Silent Hill: Revelation 3D

Posted by martinteller on February 18, 2014

It’s several years after the events of the first film, and 18-year-old Sharon is now living as “Heather” (Adelaide Clemens).  Her mother (Radha Mitchell) found a way to free her from the world of Silent Hill, and now Heather remembers nothing of her time there.  She believes that she and her father Harry (Sean Bean) have to keep moving and changing identities because the law is on their tails over a “thief” that Harry killed.  The truth is, that thief was a member of the Order of Whosiewhatsie, and the Order is determined to bring Sharon/Heather back to Silent Hill.  The Order manages to kidnap Harry, and now Heather returns to the mysterious town cloaked in darkness.  Her companion is schoolmate Vincent (Kit Harrington), but Vincent has his own ties to Silent Hill.

I really loved the first movie, and unironically at that.  There were a lot of warning signs about this sequel.  First of all, the nearly unanimous bad reviews.  This didn’t scare me off too much, because the first film wasn’t all that well-loved either.  Still, it had some fans (like me) and this one seemed to have none.  Second, 3D.  I watched on Netflix Instant where I was stuck with plain ol’ 2D, but as expected, there were a host of cheesy 3D effects, including what must be the world’s first Pop Tart Jump Scare.  The original film wasn’t exactly subtle, but it didn’t rely on severed fingers flying at you to achieve its sense of dread.  Third, director Christophe Gans didn’t come back.  With the potential for utter disaster given the source material, I have to give most of the credit for Silent Hill‘s success to Gans.  Having never heard of Michael J. Bassett or any of his previous credits (Solomon Kane? Deathwatch?), I had reason to be trepidatious.  The original cast, save Bean, also couldn’t be bothered.  Mitchell makes the briefest of appearances, as does Deborah Kara Unger (as Dahlia).  And Jodelle Ferland, who would have been the same age as Sharon, is replaced with the extremely bland Clemens, who even at only 23 is clearly too old to be a high school student (as is everyone else in the quick scene of her at school).

And yet, I had to give it a chance.  I’m afraid there’s no denying it’s a lesser movie.  Clemens’s ho-hum performance is at least not as bad as Harrington’s, whose British accent pokes through when he’s acting too hard.  There’s a very hammy appearance by Malcolm McDowell (remember when his being in a movie was a good sign?) and Carrie-Anne Moss does penance for three shitty Matrix movies (that’s right, I said three) with a role that’s a half-hearted imitation of Alice Krige’s character from the previous installment.

The movie’s major shortcoming, though, is the ridiculously bad first act.  When a film starts with the old “waking up from a nightmare, whoops you’re still in a nightmare” gag, you know you’re in trouble.  There’s a lot of tedious setup and terrible dialogue and bad special effects and insane tonal shifts, and you just want to get on with it already.  I almost gave up.  But 40 minutes into it, when we finally get to Silent Hill, the movie starts to redeem itself.  Bassett wisely sticks to Gans’s use of the videogame’s creepy look and music.  Although he tends to lean slightly more towards gross-out effects, there’s some genuinely unsettling shit here.  I was briefly reminded of why I loved the first movie so much, because of the unique production design that makes this world so disturbing on a gut level.

And then it’s over before you know it.  After a few chases and harrowing confrontations we come to the climax, where the plot (taken mostly from the “Silent Hill 3” game) descends into utter gobbledly-gook and there’s some kind of standoff between Pyramid Head and the demon form of Carrie-Anne Moss or something.  Also, more bad 3D.  Sigh.  The movie closes with hints of another sequel to come, and heaven help me, I’ll probably watch it.  For those who were captivated by the atmosphere of the first Silent Hill, part of this installment will satisfy you.  Just not nearly enough of it.  Rating: Fair (61)

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