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Review: Don't Go Back To 'Silent Hill'

Jim Fagan
October 28th, 2012 12:00pm EDT

Silent Hill Revelation

Don't come back to silent hill!

Much like the main characters, it would have been better had we never gone back.

Silent Hill Revelation 3D leaves viewers wandering in a fog of ash… or is that snow?

No, no, it’s ash… but unlike the first movie, the earie white flakes go unexplained and are relegated to being an uninteresting weather phenomenon in this new, duller world of Silent Hill.

Which isn’t to say there isn’t any action. There’s plenty, but its meaningless and repetitive. Suspense quickly gives way to a glazed over feeling of indifference, a bubble burst by only momentary spurts of giggling disbelief or confusion. The filmmakers have somehow forgotten or ignored the most important part of Silent Hill… namely, SILENCE. Silence interrupted by occasional fits of mass panic and hysteria, a warning siren, a terrifying dream, an imposing darkness…

It just doesn’t work when it’s the other way around. This movie opens with a non-sensical terror sequence n Silent Hill itself, a sign of what’s to come. After that, the movie slips in and out of creepy and rediculous for a little while, and those moments are the films best. When the main character’s sanity is called into constant question, there’s still something to fear. After all, what’s more terrifying than loosing your mind? But that is all so quickly dismissed in favor of, “Wouldn’t it be cool if this happened?” or, “And then the monster does this!”

Why?

Why do the nurses attack you when you move your finger but if you have a full conversation in the same room they can’t hear you?

“They just can’t. Don’t ask so many questions. Aren’t they hot, though? Aside from the… you know… no face thing?”

Image Courtesy of Mammoth Press

The acting and dialogue of this film feels like cutaways during video games from the early 2000’s, but I’m not going to get on it for that. That’s the genre. You know the feeling: Two actors who clearly where never in the same room together splurt out exposition for some 15 second scene. The scene plays between levels on your favorite game while you furiously hit the X button, but it won’t let you skip to the part where you get to take over the controls and kill some monsters or bad guys or whatever. It’s like that here, except that you never get a chance to take over the controls.  You’re forced to sit there and wait for it all to end.

The actors should be cut some slack though. The script feels like a Wikipedia article written by a cult fan of the game, and if you look up the plot of the games online you'll know that's not a compliment. Still, the attention to shoving in some plot points from the original material is what makes it so shocking that they flat out ignored so much of the tone and intention of the franchise.

I took a life long Silent Hill player, and a huge fan of the game folklore, with me to the film. He was so deeply disappointed afterward, and among his many critiques, what bothered him the most was, “Why can’t they either follow the game, or be inspired by it and do their own thing? Why just waiver in-between?” It’s ironic, because that purgatorial, between worlds feeling was so much of what made the first Silent Hill so fun to watch. It's gone now, replaced by cliche's... in 3D!

No sense crying over spilt milk though. There is a wax museum in Lake George, way- up-state NY, called “The House of Frankenstein.” You walk through, and see a bunch of stilted scenes of horror, cut with some cool audio and lighting. You’re free to linger and let your thoughts run, making the whole thing kind of a fun, chilled experience. Silent Hill 3D can sort of be like that, if you have the right attitude. If you’re looking for some disturbing imagery loosely stitched together, something that allows you to fill in your own story, then it could work. You could do worse for a Halloween thrill.

In fact, if the movie was actually silent, you’d still have no idea what was going on, but your imagination might actually run free instead of being bludgeoned to death.  

So, if you’re looking for some ghoulish imagery with very low expectations, and the every growing cost of going to a movie means nothing to you, and a good wax museum or haunted house isn’t available, then ok, “come to Silent Hill…” But, you’ve been warned.

Photo Credits: Open Road Films