The problem with adapting things like Silent Hill to cinema, is that you’re never going to get it really right. The Silent Hill games (SH2 and SH3) are some of the best horror experiences that I’ve had, and part of that is down to the immersive and claustrophobic atmosphere. It’s something which is always going to be less effective on film, and whilst I’m sure that in the minds of filmmakers 3D is meant to address that problem, it really really doesn’t.
So whilst I sincerely hoped that Silent Hill Revelation would capture the true spirit of the games, I had mentally prepared myself for extreme disappointment.
I think it’s for that reason that Silent Hill Revelation got off fairly lightly. It was a long way from perfect, and certainly wasn’t the Silent Hill that used to terrify and excite me in equal measures. But I left the cinema a lot happier than I had expected to be, which is about as much of a win as it’s going to get.
Following on from the first Silent Hill film, SHR adapts the video game Silent Hill 3, and sees Heather/Sharon/Alessa/you get the idea (Adelaide Clemens) return to the eponymous town to save her father Harry/Christopher (Sean Bean), kidnapped by the creepy cultists who weren’t quite gotten rid of in the first instalment. Along the way she’s joined by Vincent (Kit “Jon Snow” Harrington), and pursued by all the traditional horrors of the franchise (and Carrie-Anne Moss).
The names thing is a touch confusing, prompting a tongue-in-cheek admission from Heather:
“Names don’t really matter.“
There are some major drawbacks to the film, which seriously damage its enjoyability. Chief of these is the script. I don’t know what happened to all the horror scriptwriters who can actually write good dialogue (maybe they got really drunk at a party and annoyed everybody?), but this stuff is dreadful. There’s hardly a line which didn’t make me cringe, and the best sequences were the silent ones.
Linked to that, there were two other points. Firstly, don’t make Sean Bean do an American accent. He can’t — it comes out as butchered Scottish. Let him do his thing in full-bodied Yorkshire, and be bloody well happy with that. Secondly, nobody does good exposition any more. I get that some people will be confused if you don’t have the characters laboriously explain everything which happens, but really? The whole scene with Harry and the mirror (not to mention the woeful conclusion speech) was unnecesary, and clunked like an old man with two wooden legs.
Finally, the mannequin creature. Picture, if you will, General Grievous from Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith by way of the robot from I, Robot, and you have a sense of how ridiculous this was. I personally find mannequins quite scary, but this was just daft. Added to the fact that it didn’t fit with a compendium of fleshy and organic monsters, and it felt like a Lego construction squatting on the film like…well, a giant mannequin spider.
But as I said at the start, it didn’t disappoint as much as I’d feared. Part of that was that someone had clearly actually played the games beforehand, and it was peppered with little references for fans. Pyramid Head is a long way from his original purpose, but they gave him a new one and he was at once scary and sympathetic, which is quite impressive. He’s a different beast to his one initial incarnation.
And the end makes mentions of some of the other Silent Hill games, which is sort of nice, but also like erecting a sign saying “Look, we’re based on something!” And still nothing of the best of the lot.
In summary, it was a distinctly average film to me. It avoided some of the potholes it could have fallen into, but only succumbed to even more obvious ones. It could have been better, but so too it could have been much, much worse. And I’d still far rather see this than yet-another-bloody Paranormal Activity film.