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‘Silent Hill Revelation’ has video game feel

By Christopher K. Conner

There is an inexplicable temptation to create movies based on video games. While the link between “Silent Hill Revelation” and its namesake game series originated by Konami in 1999 is tenuous, the story does center on the same protagonist as the Silent Hill 3 game.

Adelaide Clemens portrays the central character Heather Mason. Heather and her father Harry (Sean Bean) have just moved to the area. They’ve obviously adopted false names and identities to throw off some unknown pursuers. Heather believes they are fleeing the police because her father killed a man. The constant fear of discovery is causing Heather to have graphic nightmares. Soon, those nightmares start to creep into her waking hours. These dreams always reference a place called Silent Hill and usually have gruesome scenes of torture and human-like monsters.

At her new school, she encounters Vincent (Kit Harington) wandering the halls during a particularly intense waking dream. Another new student at the school, Kit follows Heather and tries desperately to befriend her. She initially rebuffs him, but when she witnesses a private investigator hired to find her get killed, and unable to find her father, who has been kidnapped by the shadowy forces that pursue her, Vincent accompanies her to Silent Hill.

There is a certain video game feel to many scenes of the movie. Heather wanders into strange, half functional rooms that have random sounds and lighting is familiar to anyone that has played certain video game genres. In a film, these scenes make much less sense. Watching Heather exploring these spaces, keeping her handgun stowed in her belt just felt wrong.

Similarly, some of the unexplained parts of the film seemed designed to just be as strange as possible. There’s supposed to be some kind of plot, extended from previous work, to resurrect a god. Of course there is also the obligatory cult, directed by some megalomaniacal, devout leader who is willing to sacrifice friends, foes and relatives to achieve her goals. None of it ends up delivering much more than a few set pieces that do little to further the weak plot.

The powers, minions and reach of this cult make it hard to explain how Heather and her father were able to avoid them for so long. But, trapped as they are on Silent Hill, they create monsters that threaten themselves and never seem to dwindle despite a high environmentally induced body count.

Likewise there is little to satisfy curiosity regarding the curious link between the “demon” Alessa and the trappings of this cult. Perpetuating the meme of “scary little girls” that seem to be the default visual trick of modern horror, Alessa is set up to be far more terrifying than she ultimately ends up being.

Not to say there weren’t a few startles here and there, of course. There were many points where some threat was obviously waiting to jump out at the screen and there were a few 3D effects tied to those scares that were moderately effective. Still, the most effective 3D effect had to be the falling ash which lent a definite surreal ambiance to Silent Hill. It is unfortunate that so little of the movie takes place under the cover of this ash instead of the rusted interiors of rotting buildings.

Heather’s strange dream-like path through a world of unexplained violence and tenuous plot is occasionally visually pleasing, but those moments of pleasure are deflated by some terrible acting and plot holes large enough to swallow her and Silent Hill. Revelation and 3D notwithstanding.

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