If anything, the only true revelation regarding Silent Hill: Revelation (2012) is how boring, uninventive and derivative a horror film can get.
Movies, which are based on video games, carry the burdensome weight of living up to fans’ expectations, meanwhile also trying to please the regular moviegoers. Out of those filmmakers who delved into that hazardous area almost none had the gift of the mythological Midas – instead of gold, their films turned movies into box office bombs. For instance, Assassin’s Creed (2016) would have been a massive flop, if not for the Chinese market. And the same story, but on a bigger scale, happened with Warcraft (2016), an adaptation of a massively popular game, which was rescued by the same market.
In fact, rarely did it happen that a video game-based flick received enough praise to usurp the rights to a sequel. Resident Evil is a definite stand-out in the category, since it boasts six movies in total, as well as providing Mila Jovovich with food on her table for years. Recently, Sonic The Hedgehog (2020) managed to score a sequel (in works), but Hollywood’s numerous flops usually ended after just one film.
So where is the place of Silent Hill: Revelation (2012) in all this?
Silent Hill: Revelation (2012) Movie Summary
In Silent Hill: Revelation (2012), the story picks up several years after the events in Silent Hill (2006). After her mother was trapped in the cursed town, Heather (Adelaide Clemens) travels with Harry (Sean Bean), disguising in multiple schools and cities in order to escape a demonic cult. Despite his best efforts, Harry can’t protect Heather from going back to where Rose – Heather’s mother – was left.
Silent Hill: Revelation’s (2012) plot pierces through the muddled beginning with the grace of an icebreaker on a glacier. M.J. Bassett, the director of this sequel, impatiently dashes to barely paint the setting. As a consequence, it is hard to invest in any of the characters. That frustrating impatience causes Adelaide Clemens’ role to lose any likability right from the start too. In a particularly cringe-inducing scene, Clemens explains to her new classmates how much of a “I don’t care about you all” girl she is, which picks up the interest of a handsome guy named Vincent (Kit Harrington).
Harrington, whose name is now associated with his role of Jon Snow on HBO’s Game of Thrones (2011-2019), sloppily builds an unconvincing macho-type with dark intentions. The reveal of his past draws the only – yet still vague – element of interest concerning his character. Clemens, on the other hand, serves the role of a “gamer’s medium”, a blank page that moves around so that we see explore the surroundings too. We’re left with two dramatically barren characters and loads of horrors taken directly from the game.
M.J. Bassett didn’t understand the secret sauce of the Silent Hill games
I’ll stress the fact that Silent Hill’s reputation was built on the eerie, unnerving atmosphere, and not – as M.J. Bassett seems to think – on jump scares. Even in comparison with its preceding Silent Hill (2006), Silent Hill: Revelation (2012) pales when we finally re-visit the old, ash-covered block. The perspective is more game-like than before, as M.J. Bassett explores the frantic, blood-soaked hell of Silent Hill. Heather wanders from one spot to another, however we, as her loyal companions, remain clueless as to her objectives. Although Silent Hill: Revelation (2012) is constructed on the canvas of a road movie, the key element – being the endpoint of the journey – is missing.
Frankly, the only reason to watch Silent Hill: Revelation (2012), in spite of all the wrongs that Bassett’s committed, would have been the actual exploration of Silent Hill. Would, because as I have mentioned, M.J. Bassett sacrifices the dreadful shroud of mystery to serve half-baked jump scares every minute. And if you remember The Naked Gun (1988), you might recall how Leslie Nielsen smoothly moved from one comedic bit to another without the need to make them connected. Nielsen might have made a plotless pulp, yet even his spoof-oriented joke had more to offer than Silent Hill: Revelation (2012), where instead of idiotic humor we get deadpan serious – and astoundingly ineffective – horrors.
Silent Hill: Revelation (2012) sells its scares short
That’s how M.J. Bassett scares in Silent Hill: Revelation (2012) – in most dire, dull ways. He spits Silent Hill’s original creations like bullets from a Tommy gun – Red Pyramid, the iconic dark nurses, or a mannequin spider all report on duty. The brief appearances of those hellish hordes are all hurtfully formulaic though, and little do they enrich the plot of Silent Hill: Revelation (2012).
That’s also the result of the tv-level quality of Maxime Alexandre’s cinematography, which visibly lacks the budget that the Silent Hill (2006) DP Dan Laustsen was given. On top of that, Alexandre isn’t on par with Laustsen’s skills – Laustsen worked on the set of The Shape of Water (2017) and received an Oscar nomination too. As much as Alexandre mimics the grim, sadistic guts of Silent Hill, his effort is much closer to the low-budget derivatives of Saw (2004).
In my opinion, M.J. Bassett’s film cements the conviction that video games can’t be taken literally when adapting. Silent Hill: Revelation (2012) draws from the game’s world without understanding its merits and complexity. As a horror film separate from the source, this is a failure on all fronts too, and a sad reminder of Hollywood’s bottom-level efforts to squeeze the dollars out of our pockets. However, this time, it didn’t quite work, because Silent Hill: Revelation (2012) made little more than $8 million on a $20 million budget.
Silent Hill: Revelation (2012)
Director: M.J. Bassett
Writer: M.J. Bassett, Laurent Hadida
Starring: Adelaide Clemens, Kit Harrington, Carrie-Ann Moss
Music: Jeff Danna
Cinematography: Maxime Alexandre