Like watching a recording of someone else playing a video game . . .
STARRING: Adelaide Clemens, Sean Bean, Kit Harrington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Malcolm McDowell
2012, 94 Minutes, Directed by: Michael J. Bassett
Video games have come a long way over the years but, alas, movies based on video games have not!
Silent Hill: Revelation 3D has much the same problems as the 2006 original. It’s like watching a recording of someone else playing a video game. You have no control and you have nothing invested in the characters or the outcome.
Heather is the new name taken by Sharon, the girl who was taken by the strange cult in the abandoned town of Silent Hill, and who is the “good” part split off from the possibly demonic Alessa. (Adelaide Clemens takes over the role originated by Jodelle Ferland.) This time instead of focusing on her mother searching for her, it’s all about Heather/Sharon/Alessa.
She and her father (Sean Bean) are in a new place, but she’s suffering from nightmares about the evil town and sometimes her visions bleed over into reality. There’s also a private detective (Martin Donovan) pursuing her and another new kid at school, Vincent (Kit Harrington) who has taken an interest in her. Before you know it she’s experiencing surreal visions and attacks. Soon she and Vincent are on the run, in pursuit of her father who has been taken by the cult.
That’s pretty much it for plot. We get little in the way of character development, and the only reason we end up thinking of Heather and Vincent as a romantic couple is that virtually everyone else disappears after a scene or two. Give the producers credit for casting. Bean and Harrington are from Game of Thrones, Malcolm McDowell shows up for a scene as Vincent’s crazy uncle Leonard, and Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix) is the leader of the cult. Radha Mitchell and Deborah Kara Unger, both from the original film, make cameos here as well.
However as the marquee names come and go what actually might hold your interest is Heather facing increasingly surreal and deadly situations. This ranges from a children’s birthday party that turns into a bloody cannibal feast to a creature made up of mannequin parts. In the most interesting sequence a captured Vincent is taken to an operating room populated by faceless nurses wielding sharp instruments who appear frozen in uncomfortable poses. It’s only when someone moves that they spring into action with deadly results. If we actually cared about the protagonists – Heather must rescue him – this would be a powerful scene instead of simply extended weirdness.
That, in a nutshell, is the problem with Silent Hill: Revelation 3D. The characters are as superfluous as the 3D effects. (Except for the opening where falling ashes seem to be coming into our laps, we largely forget about the 3D while watching except for having to wear those annoying glasses.) The characters and plotting are so flat that in the big climax Heather and Vincent stand by while two of the special effects monsters battle it out. There’s a hint of a sequel, naturally, but unless they put as much money into the script as they do in the casting and production design, there’s really no need for one.
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His first novel, Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood and the Bartender’s Guide will be released in January. He teaches film at Suffolk University and lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.