That’s it. That one word sums up my feelings toward Silent Hill: Revelation. Utterly unremarkable. It’s almost remarkable how unremarkable it is. The scares in this “horror” movie were so flat and free of thrills that, in my boredom, I actually developed a crush on lead actress Adelaide Clemens (who, thanks to a dual role, comes in two varieties: cute-as-a-button and Evil Is Sexy). I know that might sound “normal” to some folks out in Internet Land, but you have to understand: my first and only true love is film analysis. It takes a lot to lead my eyes astray–like, “Rosario Dawson dancing on a rooftop” a lot. What does it say about the quality of cinematic storytelling on display that I found myself so easily distracted?
I suppose I should try to dig deeper.
It strikes me, upon reflection, that Revelation’s narrative structure closely resembles that of a video game (speaking in broad, general terms; I’ve yet to sample this particular critically-acclaimed series, though I do own a used copy of Silent Hill 2)–even more so than its spiritual cousin, Resident Evil: Retribution. In order to rescue her kidnapped father from a hellish nightmare world, protagonist Heather Mason must follow a trail of breadcrumbs from objective to objective, collect assorted keys and crests to unlock the doors that impede her progress, and battle a variety of grotesque boss enemies.
The “princess in another castle” is portrayed by Sean Bean, reprising his role from the franchise’s previous installment. He’s far from the only wasted actor to make an appearance (Malcolm McDowell and Carrie-Anne Moss at least have fun with their limited screen time), but he’s certainly the most obviously embarrassed; he can’t even muster enough enthusiasm to fake a convincing American accent.
This same sense of apathy permeates every frame of every scene, as though director Michael J. Bassett’s heart simply isn’t in the material. The problem isn’t poor filmmaking: the cinematography is gorgeous, the editing more than competent. No, the fatal flaw is that Bassett fails to frighten the viewer in any meaningful way, and doesn’t seem to care. The few interesting concepts–like the enormous spider composed entirely of mannequin parts, which turns its victims into more mannequins and uses their still-screaming heads to increase its field of vision–vanish as quickly as they’re introduced. Worse, few of the monsters serve any organic purpose in the plot; even Pyramid Head’s brief cameo feels obligatory and unnecessary. Thus, Silent Hill: Revelation is unmemorable. Uninspired.
[Originally written October 26, 2012.]