2006’s Silent Hill movie adaptation marked the first time Konami’s milestone horror franchise hit the big screen. The film was received poorly from most everyone, aside from maybe the most diehard fans. The people behind the movie didn’t seem to understand what makes Silent Hill so memorable. They utilized monsters from stories that had nothing to do with the movie’s plot, they seemed to think just having fog was enough to achieve the game’s signature atmosphere, and the dialogue was nothing like the many interactive installments they had to base it off of. You can’t just make a horror movie, slap on a well-known franchise’s title, and call it an adaptation. Six years later, the sequel has arrived. Fortunately for fans of the series, it seems the production crew had a revelation of their own and turned out a slightly better, if inconsistent, sequel.
The plot of Revelation takes place six years after the first movie. Sharon, having survived the events of the first movie, is sent back to the real world by her mother who sacrifices herself to return Sharon home. She and her father, a role reprised by Sean Bean, take on new aliases as Heather and Harry Mason, names which those familiar with the series will recognize. Harry was the protagonist of the first game, and Heather was the lead in Silent Hill 3. Both characters even dress like their videogame counterparts, which is one of many fan services in the movie. This film, unlike its predecessor, borrows heavily from one specific game, that being the aforementioned Silent Hill 3. Robbie the Rabbit and Lakeside Amusement Park are obvious similarities, but there are even smaller ones for the more devoted fans like maps being identical to their in-game counterparts and some ‘Easter Eggs’ seen in the background of some scenes. Still it diverts on its own path with its narrative by introducing characters and plot devices that weren’t present in the game while using the game as a basic outline.
As mentioned, the first movie damned itself when it utilized monsters like Pyramid Head and the faceless nurses. Those creatures have become iconic, but they are specific to different protagonists. Silent Hill 2 introduced Pyramid Head, but that is James’ monster, no one else’s. To include him in the first movie, and unfortunately again in Revelation, is to display a misunderstanding of the source material. He is used even more prominently in this sequel, actually, which is really too bad because as a whole, this movie feels more worthy of the Silent Hill moniker than its predecessor.
The acting was neither excellent nor terrible. Like the project as a whole, the performances could be classified as mediocre or passable. Thankfully, the musical score again utilized Akira Yamaoka’s brilliant score from the series. Jeff Danna scored the movie the same way he did the last one, by creating new music that uses Yamaoka’s work as a starting point. There’s also some entirely new music by each composer and the end credits are blessed with the haunting vocals of Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, another long-time contributor to the series.
Many of the scenes unfolded in a way that felt like they were ripped right out of the games, which is what this movie does best compared to the first one. Despite the careless usage of monsters that don’t belong and a convoluted plot that will leave confused every viewer not familiar with the games, at its heart, the film does genuinely feel more like a Silent Hill title. It’s weird throughout, the monsters that are new are just as twisted as anything fans have seen previously, and the music and atmosphere were better implemented this time around. The 3D effects were also well done, especially over the opening titles sequence when the signature ash and fog looks like it’s literally right in front of your face, like if you put out your hand, part of the twisted town would land in your palm.
The most exciting moment of this movie, for me, was the final few images wherein two allusions to other Silent Hill stories are made. If those are just Easter Eggs for fans to smile over, then that’s a clever way to end this storyline, and due to poor sales, possibly the series. On the other hand, with the strength of the video games’ many stories, these potential future adaptations could serve to improve the series further.
If you’re not a fan of the series, there’s nothing here that will excite you. The scares aren’t abundant and the story is just too bizarre for the average horror fan. But if you enjoy the franchise, this sequel is definitely better than the 2006 adaptation. It is by no means a great movie – far from it, in fact. However, the new writer/director Michael J. Bassett has a better understanding of what it means to be a part of Silent Hill. It’s these intangibles that save the movie from being terrible. When the acting isn’t stellar and the story is even a little too weird for this franchise, at least they nailed the atmosphere. In the video game series, the first and foremost attribute to be judged is atmosphere. In 2006, the movie seldom gave viewers that signature gut feeling that is so crucial to the experience. Revelation still misses the mark in many areas, but it is also a definite improvement, most notably in this atmosphere.
Video game movies, historically, range from mediocre to awful, and this one won’t change anyone’s minds. On the other hand, just like Konami has handed off the games’ development reigns to different studios in hopes of perfecting the experience, perhaps the movies should and will do the same thing. With the right crew behind the franchise, I’d gladly take a trip back into town.