You may think that director/screenwriter Michael J. Bassett (“Deathwatch,” “Solomon Kane”) recently took over the reins of the “Silent Hill” film franchise. What he did was fumble with the reins, veer off-road and manage to get the carriage trampled beneath the horses. Apparently Bassett believes that sequels are supposed to be unpleasant to sit through, and that making a horror movie means startling your audience with cheap jump-scares. “Silent Hill: Revelation” is something you might expect from a film student with minimal creativity and a $20 million budget.
Adelaide Clemens (who looks like she was cast from a lineup of Michelle Williams look-alike contestants) portrays Heather Mason, an angst-ridden girl with a shadowed past. Our scrappy heroine wakes up the day before her eighteenth birthday after dreaming about her demonic doppelganger who warns her not to go to Silent Hill. In reality, Heather and her dad Harry (Sean Bean) have spent the last decade on the run. If you’ve seen “Silent Hill,” it’s clear early on that Heather is Sharon, the adopted daughter of Christopher and Rose Da Silva.
Sharon’s return is explained through a half-baked flashback that picks up immediately after “Silent Hill.” A ghostly Rose (Radha Mitchell) explains to Christopher/Harry that she somehow discovered a one-passenger trip home; she stays behind in order to send Sharon back, and makes Christopher promise to keep Sharon away from Silent Hill at all costs. Sharon has no memory of Silent Hill; Christopher tells her she was in an accident that killed her mother. In present day, Sharon/Heather attends her first day of school, and fellow new kid, Vincent (Kit Harington), stalks Heather around town with the devotion of a needy puppy, cramming cheesy flirtations in between her waking-nightmare episodes. When Harry’s abducted by the same cult that’s been hunting for Heather, she sets off for Silent Hill with lover boy (a.k.a. please let him die first) in tow.
One of the biggest problems with “Revelation” is that there are no people in this movie, just talking “Silent Hill” guidebooks. It seems that the characters can’t go five minutes in Heather’s company without blurting out something that she should’ve found out for herself. It takes the fun out of the story when any “revelations” are handed to the protagonist on a blood-soaked platter. If I wanted to spend ninety-four minutes listening to the characters tell me the story instead of acting it out, I would buy an audiobook.
Bean and Mitchell aren’t the only victims of Bassett’s writing. Douglas Cartland (Martin Donovan) and Dahlia Gillespie (Deborah Kara Unger) return to the series to recite unending expository discourse between unoriginal and poorly strung-together lines of dialogue. Speaking of Dahlia, Alessa’s deranged mother appears to have been pushed aside by Leonard Wolf (Malcolm McDowell) for the coveted role of town fruitcake. The last reunion guest is Pyramid Head (Roberto Campanella), Silent Hill’s beloved Angemon-meets-Porygon, who’s since been demoted to carrousel operator. The returnee cast are so lackluster in their denigrated roles I thought I was watching “Silent Hill: Recession.”
Christophe Gans’ “Silent Hill” boosted an otherwise average story with the convincing plight of a mother searching for her child and, more memorably, striking aesthetics that wrought grotesque beauty from the monsters and visual set designs. It imparted an atmosphere that, while not enough to carry the movie, respectfully rang true with the games. It’s as if the people involved in the making of “Revelation” were so excited about new monster designs (the spider composed of mannequin parts was admittedly cool) that they forgot to figure out how they fit into the plot. Bassett’s gauche handling of the sequel does more harm than good to the franchise.
Bassett needs to realize that “Silent Hill” isn’t “America’s Next Top Model,” and giving your star a choppy haircut and a gun doesn’t make her a strong female character. If you’re dead-set on seeing “Revelation” in theaters, don’t pay the extra bucks for 3D; it won’t do anything to inflate what should have been a direct-to-DVD sequel.