Jul 2, 2013
Learning to Let Go
Hey, Silent Hill, come on in. Have a seat. Can I get you anything? I have...well, I have water. Wow, I really need to go shopping, ha ha! Oh wait, I have tea. You want some tea? I can make some coffee. Just let me know.
Anyway, yeah, why I asked you over. Listen, let me say right off the bat: you won't find a bigger Silent Hill champion than me! Look, the first three video games are about as good as you're going to get in the survival horror genre. The rest of the games aren't even that bad...a couple are actually good.
As for the first cinematic foray into the world of Silent Hill, what can I say. I was so pumped about it, right? And I saw it and I loved it. Then I calmed down, saw it again...and while it's not worthy, perhaps, of all the adoration I initially heaped upon it, it's fairly solid and more good than bad.
I'm realizing, though, that the slow-but-gradual slide into mediocrity since the 2003 release of Silent Hill 3 has cooled my fervor. To use a scientific term, it's cooled my fervor a shit ton. While I'm still interested in new Silent Hill games, they're no longer release day purchases for me. Hell, for the most recent title, Downpour, I waited until the price dropped to $15. Trailers for Silent Hill: Revelation piqued my interest- I admit to still harboring a Pavlovian (if fleeting) response to all things SH, and I have enjoyed past work from writer/director Michael J. Bassett- but not enough to get me into the theatre to see it. Then it was released on DVD and I thought, "Hmm. I will wait for Netflix." Then it appeared on Netflix and a trusted friendsource warned me:
"What do you mean? Bad how?"
"I don't want to spoil anything. It's just...it's bad."
"The effects? The plot? The acting?"
"It's just bad. You'll see."
So ominous, that "you'll see"! I get shivers just thinking about it. But, I could put it off no longer. It was time to see if I would, in fact, see.
BOY OH BOY, SEE I DO. This movie, I just...I mean...what the hell happened?
On paper, it doesn't sound so bad: in the years since Silent Hill, Sharon (Adelaide Clemens) and her father Chris (Sean Bean) have been on the move, changing their names as often as they change their address. Sharon is now Heather, and her life ain't nothin' but lies! She believes that they're constantly moving because her father (now calling himself Harry) killed someone in self-defense. She believes that her mother Rose (Radha Mitchell) died in a car crash. She believes her dreams of a place called Silent Hill are just, you know, dreams.
But! The troof ain't so convenient or pretty. After finding a way to allow Sharon to escape years ago, her mother Rose remains trapped in Silent Hill. Her father keeps the family mobile because Silent Hill wants HeatherSharon back because something Alessa something something awakening their God something. Through a few twists and turns o' the plot, Heather does head to the Hill to rescue her dad and...whatever.
Sure, it's convoluted and likely impenetrably confusing for anyone who hasn't seen the previous Silent Hill film. It's a workable plot, though, so it's a bit surprising that Silent Hill: Revelation is such an utter, utter failure. It's a perfect fucking storm of failure, in fact.
The dialogue is atrocious. It's flat and boring and corny, on par with some of the worst video game dialogue out there. Silent Hill has never been known for its writing, but it's better than this. The performances and the script feed off of each other like vampires locked in a kind of tangled battle of suckage: the performers surely couldn't be inspired by the writing, but for fuck's sake I don't think any of them are even trying, which makes everything sound even worse. Sean Bean and Radha Mitchell in particular- I mean, I'm not convinced that Mitchell is a decent actress at the best of times, but both her performance and Bean's can't even qualify as "doing it for the paycheck" acting. They're phoned in from farther away than E.T.'s phone home bullshit. I don't know who to feel worse for while watching this- them, or me. Or maybe the world.
At times the effects aren't that bad, I suppose, in that CGI "some pixels walk around and stab other pixels and then some pixel gore happens" kind of way, but it's all just wrong. The world feels wrong. There's nothing ominous at play. Silent Hill is as easily accessible as Hoboken. One of the major face-offs in the film is resolved with a hug. A hug of death, mind you, but still. A fucking hug.
I don't know how to sum it up beyond saying that this film is just embarrassing. Embarrassing to anyone who calls herself a Silent Hill fan, to anyone who has enjoyed Bassett's other endeavors, to all of the actors (what the frig, Carrie-Anne Moss is totally wasted and you shut up, I will not tolerate a disparaging word because I love Carrie-Anne Moss), to anything and everything that ever was or will be. My friend was right: for fuck's sake, it's just bad. You'll see.