Silent Hill: Revelation (2012)

I’ve been led to believe that Silent Hill is the most frightening of gaming franchises. Having not played them, I can only imagine. My exposure to puzzle-based survival horror stopped at the first Resident Evil game when I realised that I had a hard time finding a connection with these characters due to their limited functionality through button pressing. This feeling carried over into the first Silent Hill flick, a triumph of style over substance. Wonderfully creepy visuals and intense atmospherics bolster what is effectively a disengaging non-plot populated by empty vessels. It was enjoyable on a superficial level but never really managed to get any deeper. Its sequel, Silent Hill: Revelation had the potential to look at its predecessor and fix the niggles. It almost succeeds.

Revelation follows the same retrieval-from-spookytown device of the first; this time it is Daddy Sean Bean who has been whisked away to the eponymous home of so many Hellraiser evictees. Based on the laboured exposition, former resident Sharon/Heather/Whatever has to returned to fulfill the prophecy or something. Mostly, she just wants to rescue her dad and whine about stuff.

The film resembles a video game in more than justĀ aesthetic, connecting horror set-pieces with cut-scene level exposition delivered in a stunted, unnatural manner. All of the main actors – with the exception of Carrie-Anne Moss and Malcolm McDowell- are performing through assumed accents, so that could be a contributor to the awkward positioning of the bulk of Revelation’s dialogue. This seems to be the cause of the rift between character and audience, it’s so difficult to be engaged when the film’s pace is constantly interrupted by affected and unleavened speeches peppered.

It’s difficult to stay angry at Silent Hill: Revelation because of its continued devotion to practical effects. All but one of the major villains are clearly rooted in special make up effects, with minimal assistance from the tech-savvy CG team. Unfortunately, these effects just don’t seem to connect with me. Maybe it’s the CG enhancements or the dirty brown filter that seems to wash over the film whenever something good seems to be starting, but it never quite manages to bridge the chasm left by the characters. The stakes just feel incredibly low.

A visual treat but with little nourishment at its core, Silent Hill: Revelation treads the familiar steps directly into a stylishly creepy but emotionally bereft burg. There is enough flair present for the flick to be enjoyable and jarring in equal measure, but it all feels fairly disposable and will certainly not hold up to repeated viewing.

Rating: ★★★★★½☆☆☆☆

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