Blu-ray Review: SILENT HILL – REVELATION

silenthill_revVideo game movies haven’t been altogether successful. Interactivity is the key ingredient missing. Every choice the player makes advances the story in various ways and affects the outcome. They are a huge part of building the narrative whereas the film’s audience is solely along for the ride. There’s no button to mash or joystick to jostle if they don’t like what’s happening. The viewer is stuck with whatever wrongheaded decision has been made by the producers or screenwriters. This brings us to the befuddling Silent Hill: Revelation, based on the spooky franchise from Konami. Think of it was their answer to Capcom’s Resident Evil.

The first Silent Hill game was released in 1999 and adapted into a 2006 picture by director Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf) and writer Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction, Killing Zoe). To recap: Christopher (Sean Bean) and Rose Da Silva’s (Radha Mitchell) adopted daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) has frequent nightmares about a ghost town in West Virginia called Silent Hill. Believing it to be the girl’s birthplace, Rose takes Sharon there only to be trapped in a nightmarish alternate dimension. The town is blanketed by fog and ash and inhabited by a cult of religious fanatics who accused Alessa, an innocent child, of being a witch and burned her at the stake. Sharon is actually a manifestation of Alessa’s purity and innocence. The film concludes with the vengeful spirit of Alessa killing the cult while Rose and Sharon escape from Silent Hill, but remain trapped in the other world.

That summary may have been unnecessary because Revelation throws most of that out the window in the opening minutes. A brief flashback reveals Rose used a talisman known as the Seal of Metatron to send Sharon back home. Since then, Sharon (Adelaide Clemens) and her father have been moving across the country under assumed names to avoid the remaining cultists (The Order of Valtiel). Unfortunately, the Order has caught up with them and kidnapped Christopher to draw Sharon back to Silent Hill. With the help of classmate Vincent Cooper (Kit Harington), Sharon sets out to rescue her dad from the Order’s leader, Claudia Wolf (Carrie-Anne Moss), who seeks to use Sharon for a ritual that will summon their god.

Writer/Director Michael J. Bassett (Solomon Kane) should get credit for creating such a slick and creepy looking movie on a shoestring budget of $20 million. His Silent Hill feels like hell on Earth and populated by gruesome creatures ripped from the mind of Clive Barker. Bassett plays plenty of lip service to the hardcore fans with the appearances of game villains like the knife-wielding Dark Nurses, a disturbing spider made out of mannequin parts, and the instantly recognizable Pyramid Head.

Ultimately, the visuals mean nothing when faced with a nonsensical story that exponentially increases in absurdity. Bassett clearly loves the source material, but finds no possible way to streamline it. Thus, the majority of the dialogue is nothing more than exposition. Characters drone on and on in a vain effort to explain the convoluted mythology of the game.

Malcolm McDowell makes a silly cameo as a raving old man, a role he’s more than capable of comfortably slipping into. Yet, you can’t help but feel he, along with Sean Bean and Carrie-Anne Moss, are slumming it. Neither of the leads is given much. Aussie actress Adelaide Clemens bares a strong resemblance to Michelle Williams, except she’s not given the chance to show if she has the same dramatic chops with such a one-dimensional character. And Game of Thrones devotees shouldn’t expect a lot from Kit Harington since his Vincent Cooper isn’t nearly as well written as Jon Snow.

Video/Audio: 9
The video is presented in 1080p with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. The transfer is solid with rich details though skin tones are a little oversaturated from time to time.

The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The Blu-ray sports a robust sound presentation highlighted by the scraping of metallic weapons and blood curdling screams.

Extras: 1
A Look Inside Silent Hill: Revelation (3:06) is a quick behind-the-scenes featurette that barely scratches the surface. The only other extra is the film’s theatrical trailer.

Film Value: 2
Silent Hill: Revelation is a portentous horror show that could have easily been churned out of the Paul W.S. Anderson factory. At least, it’s better than anything by Uwe Boll.
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