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“Silent Hill: Revelation” 3D (2012) Review

Yesterday, before I ventured to the theater to see Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, I glanced quickly at the critic reviews online. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed by what I saw (the movie currently sits at a 16/100 at the time of this writing). Yet, I remembered the first film (which, with its flaws, I thoroughly enjoyed) having also gotten poor reviews from critics who seemed to not be able to wrap their head around a horror narrative outside of the usual characters getting lost, killed off one by one in increasingly gruesome ways, and a killer with some kind of gimmick. I understand that having not played through the video games the movies re-imagine (and I say “re-imagine”, not “remake”, as the movies take liberty with characters and story elements from the games) causes the viewer to not understand certain plot points as intimately, or be able to make connections as swiftly, but the first film certainly had a coherent plot (with some flaws, I agree). Now, with a new director behind the camera, how does the movie sequel, now focusing on “Silent Hill 3”, compare to the first, and capture the essence of the game?

Let me start by saying that the film does a great job of paying homage to the game. The story and characters have been altered to create a somewhat different story, but the base of the story stays the same for the most part. This bodes well in being able to create the same tension that is present in the games. Yes, the ambiance is not quite as dreadful, but the “Silent Hill” in the film is quite authentic compared to the video games. The casting for the movie was well done, keeping Sean Bean and Radha Mitchell in their original roles, and bringing in Adelaide Clemens to be Heather (a striking resemblance to the video game version of Heather). The locales, including the amusement park and mall, are perfectly executed. Finally, the creatures that inhabit the world of Silent Hill are wonderfully animated, though some of the creatures are newly created or not relevant (if you’ve played the games, you understand the importance that each creature design has to the story and main protagonist’s psyche).

(Above) Silent Hill: Revelation 3D’s Heather (Adelaide Clemens) – (Below) Silent Hill 3’s Heather

Having been familiar with Silent Hill lore, i.e. the Seal of Metatron, the Order, etc., I found the story a little more easy to grasp, but for those that have not played the game, I think the movie does a decent job of giving the viewer some detail to go off of in order to make sense of the overall plot (I mean, it’s pretty hard to capture every detail from a 10-hour game experience within the confines of a 90-minute movie). If you have played the games, there are some little touches here or there, in particular at the end of the film, that you’ll recognize and catch above the average viewer. The plot captures the main points of the game, while making some major and minor changes throughout (both good and bad in terms of the story), but I will say that I enjoyed the story the film told.

Moving on, there were flaws to this film. First, in comparison to the first film, I thought the fog, ash, and (most importantly) the world transition effects were actually better in the first film. Next, the dialogue for Revelation was quite poorly written in many areas. The story could have been much better told had they had some better dialogue been in place for the cast to work with (I almost cringed at the mirror scene between Bean and Mitchell due to the stilted and unnatural conversation). Lastly, one of the genres with the most overused clichés is the horror genre. Jump scares need to evolve into something else. Character’s inching backwards with their back to the camera, music that becomes completely non-existent as if to say “hey, something is going to try to scare you now”, and random objects whose normal function is made into some kind of joke-scare through a quick transition (here, a Pop-Tart pops out of a toaster with the sound of two freight trains colliding) – all these things are way too often used and become stagnant quite quickly.

One last quick comment I have is regarding the 3D effects (the local theater only had 3D showings for the time we went). I am against the use of 3D effects in movies for many reasons – the technology is not evolved to where the effects add anything at all to the films, many effects are more distracting than anything, the glasses at theaters darken an already dark theater leading to drowned out color palettes, and the list goes on (including the fact that to anyone who, like me, wears glasses/contacts, the 3D glasses tend to give you a headache quite quickly if you wear your contacts with them). Quick rant aside, there were two or three cases here where the 3D effects were kind of cool, and for those that enjoy 3D (and especially horror fans), this movie would be a nice display.

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D is much better than the critics would have you believe. It certainly has its flaws, and doesn’t quite reach the same level as the original, but it captures enough of the Silent Hill feel to be an easy recommendation to fans of the game series or to any horror fan in general. If you have any interest in the film, disregard the critics and see the film for yourself.

Final Score: 6.9/10

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