You could probably count the good movies based on video games on both hands and still have fingers left. Prince of Persia was entertaining, I remember enjoying the first Tomb Raider movie (probably because tits hurrr), and Doom is a guilty pleasure. But to me, the pinnacle of game-to-movie adaptations was 2006’s Silent Hill, which – though not by any means a great film – stayed true to its source material.
Now, Silent Hill is like many long-running franchises; it has die hard fans who are ferociously loyal to it, and like many long-running franchises, it has suffered somewhat as the years go on. The first three games are generally considered the best, and it’s been a slippery slope from The Room onward, as the creepy, oppressive and truly frightening elements of the first three games are phased out for cheap jump scares.
Silent Hill as a game series has always married the two extremes of fright; the subtle atmospheric dread conjured up by an empty room, a strange sound and your imagination, and the in-your-face horror of a grotesquely twisted monster and a noise like being trapped in a giant saucepan with Satan shouting in your ear. It’s why the series is so appealing, and why it has such a huge following.
But anyway. Silent Hill Revelations.
The movie follows Sharon da Silva (Adelaide Clemens), the same Sharon from the first movie, but all grown up after escaping from Silent Hill… somehow. It’s shown in a flashback that Rose (Radha Mitchell), her mother who was trapped in Silent Hill at the end of the first movie managed to speak to her husband Harry (Sean Bean) in a mirror and then magically teleport Sharon back onto Harry’s couch (holding a magical plot device no less), and it’s never really established how she managed to do that so shut up.
Sharon and Harry move around a lot because an organisation called the Order of Valtiel is after Sharon, because (urgh) Sharon is the innocent half of Alessa, the girl who was hideously burned by the Order years ago and who summoned a demon to plunge the entire town of Silent Hill into a hellish pocket dimension, and by bringing Sharon and Alessa together again, the demon can be vanquished, but the Order of Valtiel also want Sharon as a sacrifice to their new god and they’re trying to kidnap her and bring her back to Silent Hill, even though it’s then established that she has to return of her own free will aaaaaaargh
Well, no one said that Silent Hill had a simple story line.
The first third of the movie mirrors the early part of Silent Hill 3; Sharon (taking the alias of Heather) is established as a troubled young woman who is experiencing strange visions of Silent Hill. While waiting to meet her dad at the mall, she bumps into private investigator Douglas Cartland, one thing leads to another, and suddenly Harry’s missing, and she’s gone to Silent Hill. That’s when the movie diverts from the storyline established in the games, and it gets dumb, and quick. The crowning glory of this dumbness is when infamous isosceles-faced rapist-demon Pyramid Head (and don’t even get me started why he shouldn’t even be in this movie) runs in to save Sharon and have a sword fight with something that looks like Pinhead’s ex-wife.
Visually, the film looks awesome. The transition effects when Silent Hill changes between “foggy” and “dark” is nothing outstanding, but it is nicely done, and the environments are good and creepy, whether it’s a bleak misty street drizzled with soft-falling ash, or a nightmare asylum full of gibbering, grotesque monsters. Speaking of those monsters, there’s some great designs. The nurses are back, and Pyramid Head, obviously, but there are some new critters, most of which look like extremely limber BDSM enthusiasts who have got stuck mid-contortion, though the mannequin spider-golem is something a little special (and something I’ll shoehorn into an RPG one day).
Unfortunately I can’t comment on the 3D and whether or not it added to the film experience, because my local cinema considers adding the third dimension to their moving pictures to be some kind of forbidden sorcery. I’m going to go out a limb however and assume that the 3D would’ve done precisely nothing, apart from justify the incredibly awful and gimmicky “HAI LOOK AT THE 3D!!!!” shots.
But hey, story and effects aren’t what we’re here for! This is Silent Hill! I want to watch this film, and be too scared to sleep for a week!
Well, alas, the horror in this horror film is sadly lacking. All the scares are cheap, predictable jump scares meant to startle you with a loud noise and a sudden movement. Furthermore any attempts to create a genuine atmosphere of menace are hampered by the lacklustre acting and script. The second your horror film heroine – a rather frail-seeming teenage girl, I remind you – starts busting out badass quips while filling a crazy old magician with hot lead, you have officially abandoned your genre.
And on top of all that, Sean Bean doesn’t die in this Silent Hill film either! There’s something desperately wrong about that.
Yet despite all these problems I had, I still found myself enjoying Revelations, as dumb and silly as it was. Blame my love for the series that it’s based on, I suppose. Would I recommend it? Eh… maybe? Remember, as far as videogame movies go, you could always do worse.