Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Darkness is coming...Silent Hill review by Kenneth Vazquez

Silent Hill Revelations A Review by Kenneth Vazquez

I'm a gamer, a VERY dedicated gamer. As such I get so invested and attached to the video games I play that when a film adaptation of a known and beloved title is released I run for the proverbial hills, take cover and brace myself for the all too familiar kick of disappointment. That's not the case with 'SILENT HILL: REVELATION' which like It's predecessor manages to keep some of the video game source material and it's integrity intact at least in look if not story.

Based mostly on the third entry in the game series (Silent Hill 3), 'SILENT HILL: REVELATION' takes place some years after the events of the previous film. When teenager Heather Mason's father is abducted by a secret cult she must venture into the cursed town of Silent Hill and enter a nightmarish realm of monstrous apparitions in the process learning the truth behind her mysterious origin.

Director Michael J. Bassett (Solomon Kane) takes over for Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of The Wolf), who helmed the first movie, and succeeds at bringing the supernatural and horrific world of the Silent Hill games to eerie cinematic life. The foreboding and twisted sights of the rusted, dilapidated and desolate town look spot on. Locations from the games such as a roadside motel, a mall, a gritty and dark hospital and a dreadful amusement park are all there albeit briefly. The peeling effect which indicates the transition between the real world and the dark side is visually stunning and a suitable take on the way the changeover is depicted in the games. Ash falling like snow saturates the streets and the foggy landscape gives the surroundings depth making this town of the damned seem like a character.

The bizarre and grotesque denizens of Silent Hill are back and looking as awesome as ever. The iconic and memorable giant, Pyramid Head, appears still dragging his heavy blade as well as the faceless nurses and a living pile of mannequins with a beastly surprise inside. Not enough nasties in this hellish menagerie if you ask me though. While the environment does look creepy and the monsters are horrendous the film itself is far from actually scary which is a shame considering how suspenseful the video games are. There's an intense aura to the film yes but is mostly due to the use of the original game's composer Akira Yamaoka's riveting and unnervingly sinister score. For those of us who have visited this dangerous hamlet while playing the games such atmospheric melodies are a plus.

Aesthetically the movie is gorgeous but the narrative, even to those who've never played the games, is somewhat a drag and senseless. There are cheap scares which don't even startle and potentially good thrills are wasted. A smackdown towards the end of the film between two creatures felt absurd. I'm not saying the film is not entertaining, the production design and effects are cool, but messy plotting takes some of the charm away.

Sean Bean (The Lord of The Rings, Game of Thrones) returns to the role of caring father, Christopher/Harry, this time though he's more of a captive which limits his screen time. Still good to see him on film. Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix Trilogy, Red Planet, Memento) is almost unrecognizable as Claudia Wolf the head of an ancient and devious cult. So sad that her insidious and fanatical character was severely under used. The beautiful and enigmatic Deborah Kara Unger (Payback, Highlander: The Final Dimension) reprises her role of Dhalia and just like Moss her part is all too short. Legendary actor Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange, Star Trek Generations) makes an eccentric and amusingly insane cameo. Radha Mitchell (Pitch Black, Phone Booth) also revisits her role of Rose in a ghostly fashion.

New comer Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones) plays Vincent, Heather's friend and one of the few characters which felt somewhat useless. Those expecting actress Jodelle Farland (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, The Cabin In The Woods) to reprise her roles of Sharon and Alessa will be disappointed for both characters get played by two different and fairly unknown actresses. Erin Pitt (Camp Rock 2) portrays both a possessed young Alessa as well as Sharon and Adelaide Clemens (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) plays Sharon/Heather and a demonic Alessa. How did they managed all that acting multitasking? Watch the movie and find out.

Despite the story feeling a bit on the awkward side this film adaptation of a game is one of the better ones out there surpassed only by the first film. And with the possibility of a sequel or sequels due to a few hints near the end is only a matter of time before we visit Silent Hill again.