... REVELATION is SO bad that it not only takes videogame-to-film adaptions down a peg, but horror as a genre too...
Back in the day, when I first played Silent Hill: 2, I found this to be one of the scariest, most mysterious lines in the game. It was simple, concise and made me wonder just what the hell it was referring to. Was it literal? Had a sable cavity of malevolence widened itself in the town of Silent Hill? Had it vomited ungodly denizens into the streets of such a forlorn place as this? Where did go? Why? Or was it a metaphor? The final, desperate blood-coated scribbles of a dying soul? Was it even written by a human at all or the lure of something lurking in the darkness? There was something so simple in such a sinisterly vague line that, for me, encapsulated the terror, confusion and insidious nature of Silent Hill. One is never supposed to fully understand Silent Hill so much as they are to understand the plight of those sorry enough to be dragged there. The series is very personal; built upon the foundations of loss, tragedy, sin, redemption, violence and love. At the dark heart of such a mentally scarring franchise, there's a very human beat.
So, imagine my susp*cions when the first SILENT HILL hit silver screens a few years back. How could the ingenuity of such pixelated horror be duplicated into celluloid? How could the broken psychology and dementia be realized? How could such visceral, unforgettable imagery be made manifest? Well, visionary director Christophe Gans (BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF) showed me. With an obvious love of the game series, Gans crafted what I still perceive as the best game-to-film adaption to date. While flawed and a bit convoluted towards the end, it was nonetheless a beautifully shot, beautifully conveyed collaboration of the Silent Hill mythos and Gans' exquisite vision. Really, it wasn't just a great realization of a videogame; it was just a great horror film.
During the initial announcements of its cinematic sequel, SILENT HILL: REVELATION (F*ck the "3D" attachment), I felt big shoes were going to have to be filled if the project were to ever come close to the twisted accomplishment that was numero uno. Further hindering my enthusiasm was knowing that REVELATION would suffer half the budget of the first, contain a largely replaced cast and do away with Gans' incredible guidance. Instead, the corroded reigns would be given to a writer/director with an assortment of "meh" British horror flicks and slashers. What could go wrong?
What could go wrong indeed. . .
REVELATION is a joke. But not a, "Hahaha, that's f*ckin' funny!" kind of joke, more like the kind of joke you hear from someone with no comedic spirit or timing. It's the kind of joke an unfunny person would tell and, as a result, would have everyone become awkwardly silent as someone--anyone--struggles for a means to revive the conversation. Revelation is such an unmitigated disaster that it blinds itself form realizing that it's something of unintentionally high comic proportions. REVELATION is SO bad that it not only takes videogame-to-film adaptions down a peg, but horror as a genre too.
To try and explain REVELATION's storyline would be like trying to read the Bible backwards to a blind person with every other word missing. Nothing I can say about this film will make sense, and that's coming from a person who loves the series and definitely enjoyed SILENT HILL: 3; the game on which this is based. What Michael J. Basset (the writer/director) has done is taken a slightly confusing story (though, in the game, it progresses and develops naturally) and added layers upon gobs of atrocious writing and deplorable exposition. He's taken something far simpler in concept and warped it into a concoction of ugly storytelling. Not content to leave well enough alone, Basset even goes as far as adding HIS OWN story arcs (Heather's father is wanted for murder, whaa--???) which only serve to further confuse audience members and infuriate fans of the games. Even during the final ten minutes of the film, Basset continues to build on confusion by adding in more elements of his own creation (another cult group at odds with the other cult group, whaa--???).
Now, the story itself is a mentally straining piece of sh*t, but it's made all the worse through truly embarrassing execution. As if written by a thirteen-year-old anime fanatic who trolls SILENT HILL fan fiction, REVELATION is written with the subtlety of a rusty chainsaw teething a metal plate. Every moment of dialogue and every scene of character interaction is reduced to expository description. This undermines any sense of character development for sure, but what's infinitely worse is HOW it's all written and HOW it's all communicated. While Basset might possess some abilities as a director, a writer he is not. Calling the dialogue and script atrocious, desp*cable, miserable. . . It's all too kind. The writing herein (or lack thereof) is so forced that it comes off as though it were written by someone who has never watched a movie or read a book. It's so bad that Syfy would be jealous of its ineptitude.
And then there's the acting. . .
The acting which tries oh-so-hard, or not at all. Rhada Mitchell, Sean Bean, Carrie Ann-Moss, Malcolm McDowell. . . They all display their talents as if this were a made for Lifetime soap opera of the lowest form. Even funnier is that such actors are only in the film but a couple of minutes and still manage to muck up their scenes with overacting and pathetic, melodramatic performances. As for the lead, well, she tries to act fearful yet strong-willed, but it all rings hollow as well. You can only do so much with a character written to be scared for 95% of the movie.
And then there are the visuals, the main attraction for something of this nature. Thankfully, this is the only facet of the film that earns some kudos from me. A handful of sequences depict the potential of an endeavor such as this, but are quickly squandered by all of the eye-cavities which darken the possible greatness of the visual candy which just preceded it. While one scene involving a mannequin spider is nifty and the final battle comes off as one of the most unintentionally hilarious bouts ever conceived (for fans that is; another, "what the hell were they thinking?") the majority of the "otherworld" bits and imagery are lackluster, amateurish (all of the terrible clown crap early on) or repetitive (the whole nurse thing was WAY cooler and creative in the first flick). Making matters more baffling is that many of the environmental and character designs this time around don't feel SILENT HILL, they feel like they were rejected concepts from HELLRAISER, with too much emphasis on normal-looking people with skewed/stitched expressions. And on the topic of visuals, why in the hell, did the end credits depict a freeze-frame montage of the monstrous nurses FIGHTING the giant mannequin spider?! Nothing even remotely like this occurred in the film, so why put it here? Again, just who exactly thought that this was okay to do?
In the very near future, I foresee SILENT HILL: REVELATION becoming a camp classic of "so-bad-it's-incredible" proportions. I know that I definitely laughed and sighed in unbelievable lament at what was happening onscreen, and would love to see other's "what the hell?" expressions as they tried to figure out just what was going on. As a film, REVELATION made me depressed to say that I enjoy the videogame series as well as the last film, but as a complete joke (that it's not in on), it's pretty funny. . . In a very sad sort of way. REVELATION's denouement hints at the next film with a final image recalling the opening scene of SILENT HILL: DOWNPOUR. Yet, considering DOWNPOUR was also a massive disappointment in many of the same respects that REVELATION is, let's hope that the studio's steer clear. If you're looking to be slightly entertained by some sprinklings of slick presentation, but are really just looking for an unintentional comedy, REVELATION might just be your savior. For those hoping to gain something--anything--from sitting through such a dreadful train-wreck of filmmaking, avoid like the ashen town of Silent Hill itself.