PLOT: Heather Mason, having survived the perils of Silent Hill once in her life, must return to the dreaded town after her father is abducted and brought there.
REVIEW: The only true revelation on display in SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D is that it somehow manages to be worse than the first film. This thing is the stuff of nightmares, although not in the way the producers would intend. It's a brain-draining chore; a truly inept piece of junk that all but flaunts its contempt for the audience with every passing minute. Walking in, my expectations weren't high, but they weren't in the gutter either. It seemed to me impossible that the follow-up to Christophe Gans' frustrating and joyless 2006 adaptation of the popular game series would underachieve so thoroughly that it would make the first one look competent. Yet here we are...
Film starts with teenaged Heather (Adelaide Clemens) having bad dreams about the ghostly,ash-covered town in question. Heather is actually Sharon, the little girl from the first film, who is on a constant town-hopping journey with dad Christopher (Sean Bean), always changing their names and identities in order to escape.. something. Mom (Radha Mitchell) got left or died behind in Silent Hill, but now Heather is having visions of her and the creepy town, unsure of what they mean but certain it ain't good. Eventually, Christopher is abducted by an unknown party, and Heather/Sharon must venture to the hellish landscape to find him.
On the Silent Hill trip is Vincent (Kit Harington), a new friend and fellow lost soul who seems strangely eager to accompany Heather on her mission. Along the way they encounter various bizarre visions, monsters, cult members and other ominous totems and characters, including the brawny, ridiculous-looking Pyramid Head, who has such trouble carrying his gigantic machete/sword that one wonders why he doesn't just opt for a slightly smaller version. Pyramid Head is apparently the game's big old boogeyman (I'm not a gamer, truth be told), but his appearance in the movie is anything but intimidating; he looks like that pyramid dropped on his noggin and he just can't get it off.
Not unlike the first film, the production design and cinematography cannot be faulted. If anything, it's kind of too bad that those departments went through so much trouble to make a movie this bad look so good. Well, perhaps "good" isn't the word, since the flick is actually just a series of dreary, miserable set-pieces that aren't memorable in the slightest, but they certainly look convincingly hellish.
Convincing is not the case with the performances in the film, as the entire cast looks trapped and uncomfortable. Young Ms. Clemens, god bless her heart, is not up to the task of making Heather anything other than a confused-looking Michelle Williams impersonator. The actress is simply lost and she surely won't find a life preserver thrown to her by the movie. Even usually solid actors like Bean and Carrie-Anne Moss - here playing the film's boring white-haired villainous - are utterly incapable of making anything out of the material they're given. Only Malcolm McDowell, as per usual, can be counted on to inject a certain crazy energy into his cameo, but his arrival in the movie mostly provokes exasperated laughter.
It's worth noting that almost the entirety of the dialogue is made up of exposition, so there is zilch in the way of meaningful interaction between the characters, hence we can't blame them too harshly. Even as far as the exposition goes, the movie appears to assume that we'll know what it's talking about when half of the time it's befuddling nonsense. Writer-director Michael J. Bassett (who had much better luck with the entertaining SOLOMON KANE) dishes out images and conversations that may make sense to people familiar with the games (or at the very least, the first film) but are completely baffling to the rest of us. The director falls back on standard objects of fear (clowns! mannequins!), but more often than not seems oblivious to what makes a film frightening or engaging; the sequences of supposed suspense are graceless and scare-free across the board. The film is truly lazy and half-baked in an appalling way, one that should make any struggling filmmaker enraged that a mess like this is unleashed upon the masses, yet smaller, smarter movies have to beg and claw their way into the public consciousness.
Anyone psyched about experiencing the hideousness of SILENT HILL: REVELATION in 3D can put that eagerness in their back pocket; it's a gloomy thing to look at, sometimes the images actually seem to fold in on themselves as opposed to pop off the screen. The only interesting use of the format is when ash flakes make their way across the screen, but those instances are few and far between.