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Entries in Silent Hill: Revelation [2012] (1)

Tuesday
Oct302012

Silent Hill: Revelation (2012)

Marrow Victory

Before watching Silent Hill: Revelation last night, my friend Mandy and I sat down for a lovely dinner at Chicago's Owen and Engine. The avant-garde British pub sits directly across from a Regal multiplex, giving us plenty of time to catch up, relax, and enjoy ourselves without being rushed for the show.

Mandy highly recommended their burger, which is doused in Worcester sauce and tastes like the body of Christ, apparently. But the prospect of sitting through another Silent Hill movie placed me squarely in a Food Network state of mind: If I was going to die of boredom within the next two hours, my last meal had to be something outrageous--like roasted bone marrow with escargot.

A gigantic, bisected cow's bone arrived at the table, the halves forming what looked like porcelain celery-stick sculptures resting on a small plate. Piped along the top was an aromatic bed of herbs and roasted snails over the flesh-jelly, which our waitress had described as being "like a buttery spread". It scared the hell out of me, but I couldn't wait to dig in.

This may be one of the top ten dishes I've ever had. The taste bent my brain into weird shapes, and I devoured every scrap with the kind of passionate ferocity that keeps PETA activists up at night. A third of my joy came from the sensations of new flavors and textures; a third came from the pride of trying something new and falling in love with it; the last third was a pure endorphin rush that followed fifteen minutes of panicked adrenaline: paying thirteen bucks for bone marrow is ridiculous, risky, and scary for first-timers. In this case, my boldness paid off.

Sadly, this would be the most terrifying and satisfying part of the whole evening.

I found the first Silent Hill to be so unremarkable that, even after having seen it twice, I'm still hard-pressed to recall the plot or describe three things that happened during its sluggish, seemingly six-hour run-time. For all intents and purposes, I went into the sequel knowing nothing about the original--except that Sean Bean stars in both. In Revelation, he plays Harry, a dad on the run from agents of the damned. He must keep his daughter Heather (Adelaide Clemens) from being lured back to the haunted town of Silent Hill, where bad things happened many years ago.

On the first day at her new high school, Heather meets Vincent (Kit Harington), a dashing dude in a leather jacket who looks like he's been held back for about ten years. Heather warns him to stay away because she likely won't be around for long. But he persists like a Tiger Beat puppy, and soon gets caught up in the reality-warping illusions that follow his crush wherever she goes. Six hours after their first encounter, the two find themselves in a motel room, professing deep feelings for one another and embarking on an epic journey to rescue Harry, who's been kidnapped by Silent Hill's nightmarish inhabitants.

The only "revelation" I could identify in the film is the fact that writer/director Michael J. Bassett has as little clue about what makes Silent Hill tick as I do. He presents flashbacks to Part One while also plopping similar characters right back into the same town and having roughly, as I recall, the same adventures: they hide; they evade ghoulish, stitched-up mutants; and run afoul of the demon Alessa (sometimes Clemens, sometimes Erin Pitt). The only variant is Malcom McDowell (who shows up as a crazy, old doctor*), but even not even he can inject life into this expensive, unnecessary rehash.

Fans of this series might take exception to my use of the word "rehash". If anyone reading this cares to write in and explain what Silent Hill: Revelation is actually about, I'd welcome the help. From what I can tell, Alessa was brought forth by a group of devil worshipers, who'd meant to transplant the essence of a god into a little girl. The girl was burned alive in the process, but she didn't die. She lived the rest of her days as a charred, possessed person, who also cast a spell on Silent Hill--preventing the residents from leaving. She was also impregnated somehow, and gave birth to Heather. Heather was sent away from the town (by the people who couldn't leave?) and adopted by Harry and his wife Rose (Radha Mitchell). Heather needed to stay away from Silent Hill because the demon put the good part of its essence into her, and that essence is the only thing that can destroy...

Forget it.

None of this makes sense, and I defy anyone to convince me otherwise. Silent Hill: Revelation is a much worse movie than the original (an Oscar-worthy feat, if I ever saw one); its only redeeming quality is the hilarious, melodramatic exchanges between Clemons and Harington, which take place almost exclusively against green screens. The picture feels like a black-box, community-theatre version of The Room, with uninspired monsters occasionally reaching out of the darkness to break up the monotony.**

(The only use I can see for this thing is as part of a double-bill cautionary tale in film schools. One could easily pair it with Cloud Atlas for a master study in the difference between complicated plots and convoluted ones.)

I'm not sure who the target audience for this film is. Silent Hill: Revelation is not exciting enough to count as an action film; not scary enough to qualify as horror; and it's a terrible commercial for a video game. If you're looking for a blood-pumping, eerie good time that you can really sink your teeth into, spend that ticket money on some bone marrow and snails instead.

You're welcome.

*At first I laughed at McDowell. Then I pitied him. Then I pitied my own inability to make six figures for appearing in a single scene of a shitty horror movie.

**Seriously, a large spider made out of mannequin parts doesn't qualify as creature design; its just pathetic shilling for the dummy lobby.