‘Silent Hill: Revelation 3D’ Review
As far as sub-literate, incomprehensible pieces of garbage are concerned, 'Silent Hill: Revelation 3D' is one of the year's best.
With an asinine plot, risible dialogue and atrocious acting, this sequel to a half-remembered video game adaptation still manages to provide a great number of base thrills with its nightmarish imagery. As such it is a quagmire of dread both within and without, disturbing to watch and to think about. This makes for a strange alchemy: in time you identify with the lead character (a young woman in peril) not because you are engaged with the film, but because enduring such an atrocity becomes its own act of survival. How 'bout that for a neat trick, eh?
Which isn't to say 'Silent Hill: Revelation 3D' isn't gorgeous to look at. I have almost no recollection of the first film, other than a handful of striking images. That's back again: the snow, walls of skin, faceless undead, buildings disintegrating into ash, contorted mannequins and an enormous bruiser with a metal pyramid over its head. Whether popping out of shadows for jump-scares or merely lined up in a tableaux, they are creepy and mysterious and get under your skin more so, frankly, than any other disturbing images in a mainstream horror film released this year.
Even the “normal” scenes, the blue collar town and its mundane interiors, are saturated with bright, bold colors. There's such a fine attention to the look (and sound, if your theater has nice speakers) it is shocking that the filmmakers would allow such truly wretched dialogue.
It's just a few scenes in, when Sean Bean is having some sort of flashback with the previous film's Radha Mitchell, where the belly laughs come. The words trip from their mouths like when little kids pretend at acting in a classical play. But in time you'll put together that our lead, young Adelaide Clemens (playing 17 but, no offense, she could pass for 32) [Ed. note: she's 22] must not ever, ever, ever go to the mysterious town of Silent Hill. This is made abundantly clear. Yet when strange creatures begin following her, such as twitching, skinned, faceless creatures and, worse, Martin Donovan in a ruffled raincoat, loose tie and dirty hat, it's only a matter of time before she hits the road.
Ostensibly she's searching for her father (Bean) who is tied up in some 'Flash Gordon'-ish chamber, but she'll quickly discover that her visit will lead to an epic battle between good and evil, summoning a dormant spirit and...I dunno...there's something to do with a giant coin that, when shoved into Malcolm McDowell's chest does something to unleash....something. Even with Jon Snow from 'Game of Thrones' hammering us with exposition in a really strange Canadian accent (though the film is set within a night's drive of West Virginia,) I'm fairly certain that there is no one person out there that can explain the entirety of the baffling plot to 'Silent Hill: Revelation 3D.' I'm sure the video game purists will delight in all the boxes that need to be ticked before elevating to the next level; the rest of us will just wonder where the hell they're running now.
The thing is that with better acting and a reevaluation of the script, you could almost take this movie seriously. Many of the scenes have a 'Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me' vibe, but whereas David Lynch will intentionally derail the narrative to evoke an uncomfortable response, 'Silent Hill: Revelation 3D' does it all au naturale. The overall disconnect (one minute an atmospheric 'Carnival of Souls,' the next minute unreleasable trash) is something that, I must confess, I enjoyed, but that is because I admire the occasional baffling moviegoing experience. Your mileage up this hill, as they say, may vary.
'Silent Hill: Revelation 3D' is now playing in theaters.
Jordan Hoffman is a writer, critic and lapsed filmmaker living in New York City. His work can also be seen on Film.com, Badass Digest and StarTrek.com.