Sunday, February 24, 2013

In short: Silent Hill: Revelation (2012)

I'm one of the proud few who thought the first Silent Hill adaptation was rather good (and, unlike the Roger Eberts of this world, didn't find myself unable the understand what was going on in it), so I did go into the sequel with an uncharacteristic degree of optimism despite the negative critical tone towards the film all around. After all, when do mainstream film critics understand or appreciate genre movies?

Alas, Revelation (loosely based on the third Silent Hill game) actually is as bad as they say. It's particularly disappointing because director Michael J. Bassett has made some often clichéd and slightly stupid yet entertaining and atmospheric films before. It's actually a bit of a shock how little of the positive traits of his filmmaking Bassett shows here. His script somehow manages to have a plot that is much less effective on a dramatic level than that of the videogame it is based on; Bassett changes all the wrong parts (basically everything that's original and clever) of the original Silent Hill 3's plot, and keeps those parts that don't make much sense keeping in a movie. There's also so very much needless exposition (some of it made even worse through just as useless flashbacks to the first film), as if the director were afraid of keeping anything unexplained in a film belonging to a franchise that has ambiguity at its heart.

I could still live with all of these flaws if Revelation were any good on a visual or just atmospheric level, but the production design consists of visual elements ripped from the game without any understanding of their thematic meaning, used without any idea of what to do with their inherent creepiness. This is a movie that manages to make even Pyramidhead and that damned bunny silly instead of creepy - if that's not a sign of a director who doesn't know what he's doing I don't know what is. Even worse, Silent Hill: Revelation is a movie that needs to be inherently Weird but is utterly clueless about what that even means.

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