Viktoriya Berezovskaya ’16 /Emertainment Monthly Staff
For years, the Silent Hill franchise has been one of the biggest hits among fans of survival horror video games, lauded and loved for its psychological horror, its compelling visuals, and the eerie malevolence of the town of Silent Hill. When Silent Hill, the movie, hit theaters in 2006, fans of the game had mixed reactions. Silent Hill fans were let down by the plot, which did not follow any one of the games themselves, and by the protagonist, a character created especially for the film, rather than being pulled from the games. The general consensus, among fans and newcomers alike, was that while the visuals were striking, scary, and perfectly in tune with the aesthetic of the games, which is one of the franchise’s major selling points, the amateurish writing and flat acting made it impossible to call Silent Hill a good movie.
In a lot of ways, Silent Hill: Revelation tries to succeed where the previous film failed, while still keeping the atmosphere and aesthetic that the first film managed to get so right. For the most part, the attempt is pretty successful.
Where Silent Hill had Rose (Radha Mitchell), a new character made for the movie, Silent Hill: Revelation focuses on Heather (Adelaide Clemens), the protagonist of Silent Hill 3 of the video game series. The story, while somewhat changed from the game in order to be a coherent sequel to the first movie, stays fairly faithful to the story of Silent Hill 3. Heather, adopted daughter of Harry Mason (Sean Bean), is a girl sought by the resident cult of storied ghost town Silent Hill, a mysterious and nightmarish Hell on Earth located somewhere in Virginia. Naturally, she was not randomly chosen—her birth mother, revealed in the first film, is Alessa, once a troubled girl, now the demonic abomination responsible for the nightmare that is Silent Hill. The story differs from that of the video game in a few ways, which is particularly noticeable in the complete re-imagining of the character of Vincent (Kit Harrington), who goes from being a mysterious and implacable man residing in Silent Hill to being a teenager who falls in love with Heather.
On the whole, it’s clear that Revelation was intended to appeal to a broader audience than just fans of the games. The romance between Heather and Vincent is confusing at best to long-time fans of the franchise, and the quiet tension and psychological isolation that characterize the games are largely replaced with faster-paced action scenes, resembling boss fights, which are clearly meant to hook in moviegoers expecting a shocking and scary horror experience. The lack of isolation is probably the film’s largest departure from its source material and even from the first Silent Hill movie. In the first Silent Hill, viewers got at least a small taste of the real nature of Silent Hill, the malevolent environment that isolates you and royally screws with your head. In Revelation, it seems that that was what had to be cut to make time for the main plot—already stretching the limits of the movie’s scant 94 minutes—as well as for an abridged romantic subplot.
The aesthetic of the film’s setting does not disappoint, however. The visuals, arguably Silent Hill‘s most important selling point, are flawless and appropriately disturbing, and the monsters are still just as artfully portrayed and executed as they were in the first film. Fans of the iconic Pyramid Head will not be disappointed by his return, and the stunning performance of the first movie’s monster nurses is followed up in this film as well. Visually, this is undoubtedly a Silent Hill that long-time fans will appreciate.
In the end, the plot and writing are definitely the movie’s weaker points, although they are soundly more coherent and compelling than that of the first film. That, along with the relatively decent acting, serves to make this a rare case when the sequel is a truly better-rounded film than its predecessor. Moviegoers expecting something spectacular out of what can only be, after all, a video game movie will certainly not be impressed, but those of us who have had the bar set low by the first film are sure to be more than satisfied. The film more or less delivered what fans of the franchise were looking for—better writing, better acting, epic visuals, the occasional Easter Egg—without completely alienating newcomers. All in all, a successful video game movie.
Watch it: If you love the Silent Hill franchise and want to see a film adaptation of it that’s actually pretty good.
Don’t watch it: If you don’t like gore, don’t like blood, or don’t like video game movies.