OK, I PROMISE I’m not coming at this with the intolerance of the inveterate fangirl for change; I’m currently using all of that on Watson being a girl anyway.
I am a big fan of the Silent Hill series, especially installments 1-3, i.e. the actually really good ones. I share Yahtzee Croshaw’s slavering veneration of the accomplishments of Silent Hill 2 particularly, and long before the first Silent Hill film adaptation, I hoped that it would be the story translated to the screen first, being the most self-contained and accessible in the series, not relying on a complicated mythology and instead focusing on a tense, rending story of redemption (or not) and companionate love (or not), with all the supernatural culty stuff staying in your peripheral vision, where it works best anyway.
Alas, I am not Maebe Funke and my cinematic vision (which weirdly enough also called for Sean Bean as Silent Hill 2’s haunted protagonist James Sunderland) was not to be. They made the first movie adapted loosely from the first game, replacing protagonist Harry Mason with Radha Mitchell searching for her lost daughter in the hellish resort town of Silent Hill and grafting on the true life story of the mine fire in Centralia, Pennsylvania and my pick for James Sunderland as a vague husband character. It was OK. I actually don’t remember a lot of it, and for a horror movie, that’s probably as damning as it gets, but through the fog of my indifferent recall, I testify it was faithful to the source material, in its way, and watchable.
Silent Hill Revelations 3D may be also anxiously faithful to its source material, largely Silent Hill 3, but somehow manages to harvest everything that doesn’t matter — say, Heather’s outfit — and nothing that does — say, Heather’s motivations. Heather’s father is Sean Bean, now called Harry Mason, and you do not need a spoiler alert to know though his name has changed, the character is the same one Sean Bean played in the first movie, and he’s still pretty vague. A love interest is wedged in, as I suppose girl protagonists must have a boyfriend opportunity as ultimate raison d’etre, mustn’t they? OK, that’s unfair, but it doesn’t work. Kill your darlings, studio execs. I don’t care if he is Jon bloody Snow.
Speaking of Jon bloody Snow, there are some decent actors in this thing, but every scene is like a first take — awkward, unconvincing, phoned in. There are accent maintenance issues with Adelaide Clemens as Heather and Jon Snow as aforementioned love maguffin, and Sean Bean seems to be portraying Obama in the first debate. Of course with dialogue this bad, who can make it sound true to life? I’d love to take the main Heather/Vincent expository scene and see Ian McKellan and Judi Dench try it on for size.
Pyramid Head is one of those images that just works and has come to be the mascot of the Silent Hill franchise, I guess because the far more ubiquitous demon nurses confuse teenage boys.
Filmmakers want to use him. OK. But Pyramid Head is given a very specific role in this movie, a role that is circumscribed and to my mind precludes his original purpose in Silent Hill 2 entirely. Now if they make a Silent Hill 2-based movie, they will have written Pyramid Head into a corner. Which I’m sure they can retcon or ignore blithely, but dammit, Jim, he’s the symbolic externalization of guilt, not a monster-of-all-trades.
The monster designs riff on Silent Hill standbys like the mannequins, but still try to innovate. This is not a bad thing. But with a general milieu of Clive Barkery aesthetic throughout, one of the final boss monster designs I think cribs from one of Hellraiser 3’s sillier Cenobites.
The 3D, as usual, is a gimmick with very little reason for being, even in a movie that is essentially a funhouse anyway. The coolest usage in Silent Hill Revelations was the effect of 3D drifting ash. Passive, unscary, drifting ash.
You may read rumors of a short scene after the credits. There is. It is about 30 seconds long and offers nothing cool, nothing new, and certainly nothing worth staying through the key grip credit for. Do you want to know what it is? I will tell you.
Are you sure?
The last secret bonus scene is…
Pyramid Head dragging his sword across the floor. That’s it. Not even Dirk Benedict in a tanning booth, right? I know!
You know when a scary movie is released this close to Halloween, it’s probably because the only reason anyone would ever see this is because it’s Halloween and it hasn’t been out long enough for Rotten Tomatoes to have an accurate Tomatometer. It’s a shame, because the games these films are culled from represent (imho) the best storytelling and atmosphere videos games have to offer. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I saw groundwork for a Silent Hill 2 adaptation conspicuously laid here. So you know, like they say: