Before I begin this review you should know that I am a massive, massive fan of the computer game series and as such I think that these movies should be really considered more so a fan service to the millions of gamers out there than genuine entries into the horror genre. The first movie, as with its sequel ‘Revelations’, isn’t so much a movie based on a theme; it’s basically a live action rehash of some of the best moments and locations of the computer game series.
Whilst the original movie took in the first two games, ‘SH Revelations’ takes in the sights and sounds of the third game, with a little nod towards some of the better moments of ‘Homecoming’ – one of the weaker entries of the series. It’s a good shout; there is little need for much continuity between the movies, although the main story does remain faithful to the foundations laid by the first ‘Silent Hill’ movie, and it gives the script writers freedom to explore every dimension the concept of silent hill can offer. And no, that wasn’t a pun about the 3D element of the movie!
In ‘Revelations’ we follow the return of Sharon, the long lost second soul of Alessa, the demon child who governs the nightmares and manifestations experienced by those trapped in Silent Hill. She returns against all warnings to rescue her father who was captured and taken to the cursed town. Once there she battles the nightmarish creatures of Silent Hill to basically defeat the evil and rescue her father.
As you can tell, this plot line isn’t just like the computer game; it might as well be the plot of a computer game. Whilst I felt that the first movie gave a more substantial cinematic approach to the story, ’Revelations’ seems to give up on that completely – this movie is paced and scripted like a game, boss fights and all. The dialogue and sweeping cameras are very reminiscent of the games many cut scenes and those unfamiliar with the series may find the story and switch to locations a little disjointed as, again with the game, there is little explanation to the story and locations appear to have a very linear structure, i.e. she moves from a warehouse, to an asylum through one vent system, simply because that is where she needed to go for the story, more like a level load than worrying about continuity. For me I could accept it, for others it might feel a little confusing and lazy.
I genuinely couldn’t care less about the 3D elements of movie, and as a result watching this movie reminds me of why I don’t. Despite its heavy marketing emphasis on the 3D aspect of the film, the movie is mostly suitable for 2D viewing. Most of the best scenes don’t in any way rely on the option to have things fly out of the television at you, and aside from a few questionable CGI moments where things would get a little tri-dimensional in the cinema, the majority of the movies strengths lie in the atmosphere and grim imagery contained through the movies cascading set pieces. The monsters are faithfully replicated, with some, having really cool elements to them which would be difficult to replicate in a computer game. The bosses are cool, and although the moments they are on screen are brief, the rendering detail is quite astonishing, moving with a fluidity which again would be difficult to show in a video game. As I have said already the atmosphere, which really separates the games from all other survival horror, is such a key element to this movie. Whilst I wouldn’t say the movie is typically terrifying, the experience is rather all-encompassing and when the movie turns the pace down a bit things do get quite scary, with some genuine jump scares to keep you on your toes.
The violence in the movie is toned down a little, with nothing more than spatterings of CGI gore throughout, things never get as grim as they could; but then again with the movies 15 certificate I think things could have been worse. There are some really good moments; most involving the pyramid head which get fairly gruesome, in addition to the genuinely grim renditions of ‘Nightmare’ Silent Hill’s darkened contortions but ultimately things never get quite as mental as the movies plot-lines would have allowed.
Overall though Silent Hill Revelations is a genuinely good movie. The first film was one I have enjoyed re-watching over and over as the attention to detail and nods to the video games keep me coming back for more; Revelations is set to provide me with the same value for money. It’s like many films which are computer game based, it’s made by fans for fans and as such is not likely to appeal to audiences outside this clique. I’m off now to replay the third game for the third time!