Video game movies are tough to make -mostly because you are pleasing two sets of viewers: fans of the game, and those who simply want to see the movie. The first Silent Hill movie went for a balance and attempted to make both sides happy: it was a bad move that sent that film down in both regular reviews and in the eyes of the fans. Silent Hill: Revelation however, throws all concern for regular fans out of the window (which naturally earned it low reviews from standard film critics). But in doing so, it has made the true fans of Silent Hill very, very happy. And that makes this a movie worth seeing.
Konami's Silent Hill is one of those successful niche horror games that has caused countless sleepless nights for gamers all over the globe. With the movie Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, we see Heather Mason's trek through the dark and creepy world of her nightmares.
At the start of the movie, we are immediately given a sneak peak of what goes on in Heather's version of Silent Hill. There are carnivals, hooded cultists, goldfish and the pink bunny from Silent Hill 3. She's running away from the hooded men and ends up in a carousel run by Pyramid Head. A thankless job, really. She gets a warning from a Gothic version of herself just before Harry Mason (played by Sean Bean), her father, wakes her up --and gets promptly stabbed by a demonic creature. Sean Bean death scene quota, check.
She wakes up again, for real this time and we are left wondering about the Inception reference. A Poptart emerges from the toaster, she eats breakfast with Harry and receives an early birthday present. This happens to be the white vest she was wearing from her nightmare (also, Silent Hill 3). She immediately wears it and now properly resembles the Silent 3 protagonist we're used to.
Anyway, on the eve of her actual 18th birthday, she defies the wishes of her Goth self and goes looking for her father in Silent Hill after he was abducted. Before that was a school scene wherein she tells everyone she hates them, a run in with a creepy private investigator who stalks Heather and demonic kiddie parties. Oh and a budding teen romance. We are starting to think Vincent went through his initiation to go out of Silent Hill and meet his dream girl.
Why Do Protagonists Do That?
Confused yet? Don't get us wrong, we don't hate Revelation. We actually enjoyed watching it, but it's by no means a shoo-in for a blockbuster title. As a horror movie, the scares are just all over the place, with Heather's reality merging with her nightmares. This means we get to see all these creepy scenes popping out randomly, turning even the smallest detail demonic. Like eating a burger. There was some kid eating a gross looking burger that may as well have been human remains during the "Happy Birthday Heather/Alessa" tidbit. Yum.
Also, there were no intense buildup or any subtle horror cues. Meaning, thriller movie buffs may have to look elsewhere for their scares. As for the script, there were times when the lines were a bit of a giveaway at times. On the surface this ends up sounding unnatural but oddly, the cliché gives it even more of a video game feel.
This Hill is Worth Climbing
Which brings us to our pros list. While all of these cons we listed are barely a horror movie-goer's cup of tea, the strange little details do stay true to Heather's Playstation 2 title. Actually, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D's script feels like it was intended to be used for a game more than a movie. So much so that they even included clues that lead to puzzles to be solved, journals to be read for the full back story of the terrifying town and a whole slew of evil uglies to deal with. It may be weird to watch on-screen, but the tribute is much appreciated.
Even the jerky pace helps keep things as authentic as possible, seeing as the video game also alternates from quiet to heart racing. Being fans of the franchise, there were times when we found ourselves expecting a menu pop up when Heather acquires an object.
Loyal to the Game
Wondering about the title of this review? Well, aside from Silent Hill series composer Akira Yamaoka's participation in this film, one of the best details was the inclusion of Pyramid Head. No, including a recognizable icon is not a default for video game movies. Remember Final Fantasy The Spirits Within? It did not have anything related to the games -and was quickly hated by fans.
Anyway, after Heather's encounter with the Master of the Order turned psycho monster, Leonard Wolf, some random crazy grabs her from behind bars. She asks for help and summons Pyramid Head who then chops off the offending arms. Seriously people, avoid the cleaver.
After that, we see Vincent being wheeled into the room to "mend his head". The thing is, the gas mask wearing cult members completely missed seeing Pyramid's sexy girlfriends hanging around in the room. From their epic broken poses, they come to life just to slaughter some Brethren, a.k.a. the doomsday cultists' muscle. Just that scene alone makes watching this film worth it. In any case, we see them again in the classy credits stills. The murderous Nurses are shown battling the mannequin spider monster, probably fighting to win the title of prettiest horror creature on the show. It's a nice touch.
In short, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D is not the obvious choice for every horror fan but as a videogame movie, we still consider it very successful. While it does not follow Silent Hill 3 word per word, the details it did retain is enough to keep things authentic.
Why We Love It
The inclusion of familiar creatures such as Pyramid Head and the Puppet Nurses and Akira Yamaoka's terror-inducing tunes complete the experience for Silent Hill game fans. Yes, that's a big plus. We consider the video game worthy creature and location design to be a crucial element that every big screen transition should aspire for --giving Silent Hill Revelation a geeky Poptart crumbed thumbs up from us. And sure, it did not receive critical acclaim, but not all blockbuster hits make an attempt to please the niche fans. Hello Resident Evil.
In the end, Sean Bean a.k.a. Harry Mason survives. Well, not without a dream death scene, but he lives. Harry stays behind to search for Rose, indicating another venture into Silent Hill's terrifying world. Heather and Vincent hitch a ride with trucker Travis Grady which is another tip of the hat for the Silent Hill game franchise.