Silent Hill: Revelation (2012)

Rating: **
Release Date: 10/26/12
Producer: Samuel Hadida
Director: Michael Bassett
Cast: Adelaide Clemens, Kit Harington, Sean Bean, Malcolm McDowell, Martin Donovan, Deborah Unger, Carrie-Anne Moss, Radha Mitchell

Taking place ten or so years after the events in "Silent Hill" (2006), Heather (Adelaide Clemens) and Harry Mason (Sean Bean) have been living on the run, moving from town to town trying to avoid the police and hide from The Order Of Valtiel. Heather has more in common with Alessa Gillespie than she realizes, and Silent Hill calls out to her fragile mind. Unfortunately, a private detective named Douglas Cartland (Martin Donovan) gives away their location and Harry is dragged off to Silent Hill by The Order as bait for Heather. Heather and her newfound friend Vincent (Kit Harington) make their way to Silent Hill to rescue Harry, playing into the hands of Claudia Wolf (Carrie-Anne Moss) and her sinister plot to resurrect an ancient evil and cleanse the world of its sins.

Overall, it's a fairly decent adaptation of "Silent Hill 3" (2003) and manages to honor most of the major plot points while still remaining true to the original film. The film nails the "Silent Hill" aesthetic perfectly and looks absolutely stunning. The only downside is that some of the CGI exteriors look bad and the digital fog is unconvincing and visually distracting. Akira Yamaoka's music is used once again to great effect, and the combination of music and visuals creates an excellent sense of recognition and familiarity. Adelaide Clemens is superb as Heather Mason, and I was delighted to see that they even got her costume right (and that it doesn't look ridiculous like many video game costumes do). The iconic Pyramid Head returns along with the game's sexy nurses, and the makeup and costumes look fabulous.

Writer and director Michael Bassett is a capable filmmaker and clearly a fan of the material, as he treats it with respect and understanding. Unfortunately, it looks like he got so wrapped up in the look and feel of the various set pieces that he forgot to give the same amount of attention to actually telling the story. As a result, the film lacks cohesion and is a narrative mess. Not in an insulting and brain damaging way like the last several "Resident Evil" movies, but something as psychologically complex as "Silent Hill" deserves better. It also lacks the grace, subtlety, and overall sense of dread from Christophe Gans' work, and comes across like a heavy-handed blunt instrument. While it was nice to see the nasty nurses in action again, the execution seemed lacking and there was never any sense of fear or suspense. The film employs spooky noises, menacing shadows, and flickering lights in an attempt to evoke tension and danger, but they come across as cheap tricks more than anything else. The pacing also suffers, and much like Bassett's previous "Solomon Kane" (2009), it takes a good forty minutes for the film to find its footing and start to become interesting. In the case of "Silent Hill: Revelation," that's how long it takes for Heather to actually get to Silent Hill and for all hell to start breaking loose.

The film ends on a disappointingly cliché happy note, with the obligatory tease that even though our heroes think they're safe, the evil lives on. Another annoyance is that Heather encounters her mother (Radha Mitchell) in the film's trailer, and while I was really looking forward to seeing this, it's not in the theatrical cut of the movie. There's also a silly cameo by Travis Grady from "Silent Hill: Origins" (2008), but it's a little too forced to be clever. However, only die-hard "Silent Hill" fans would pick up on it. Much to his credit, Bassett has done an incredible job of making a movie that fans will immediately identify with, while completely alienating mainstream audiences. This was a risky move that will likely hurt ticket sales, but I appreciate his tenacity and purity of vision. What's most frustrating to me is that the movie is clearly broken from a story-telling perspective, but I have absolutely no idea how I would go about fixing it. More than anything, it resembles a collection of missed opportunities that fail to work together towards a common goal. This raises the same questions I had about the original film, which makes me wonder if a straight-up video game film adaptation is even possible. I keep feeling that it must be, or is that just naïveté and wishful thinking?