Silent Hill: Revelation should be viewed in 3D
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 23:10
With Halloween on the horizon, Silent Hill: Revelation comes at an opportune time for viewers.
Before proceeding to the review, it is important to establish my criteria for evaluating horror films. For me, there are two kinds of horror films: there are bad ones, such as Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks, and good ones, like The Shining. A good horror film is one that fulfills at least one of two criteria: social and artistic merit. While I judge every other genre with these two qualities, they are different with horror: they are how the “scares” are used to offer insight, such as The Mist on post 9/11 America, or show the visual beauty film can achieve, such as the design, sets and cinematography of The Shining. Silent Hill: Revelation almost meets both of these standards.
As mentioned, the film is an artistic triumph for the 2010s. I had the privilege of seeing it in 3D, and I have to say, 3D is the only way to view it. Before seeing the film, I was not a fan of the 3D format. Avatar gave me an unrelenting migraine, and the flood of films that tried to cash in on the success made me start to dislike the format.
However, director Michael Bassett showed me that with discipline, the format can achieve great beauty. Instead of relying on the novelty of having projectiles fly at the audience, Bassett used the 3D to bring the sets and locations to life. Snow and ash descend from the sky with unrivaled realism; one has to resist the urge to extend their tongue and try to catch a snowflake. The 3D format would have been a waste if the sets were mediocre, but Bassett and his crew created a terrific set of locations, each meticulously designed.
While Silent Hill: Revelation is an artistic triumph, it almost fulfills the social criteria. It has a terrific cast including Sean Bean, Malcolm McDowell and Carrie Anne Moss, in addition to a string of new or rising talent. The problem is that their performances and the narrative of the film are restricted by the short runtime. Clocking in at 94 minutes, Silent Hill runs slightly above a direct-to-DVD release, whereas it deserves at least a two-hour slot.
The shortness makes the superb talent feel more like cameos than full performances. I would have loved to have seen more of Sean Bean’s performance as a father struggling to raise his daughter while trying to heal from the grief of losing his wife. In addition to the limited characterizations, the story while intriguing is grossly rushed. Again, if the film had time to breathe, the story would be top notch; however, the problematic plot is slightly compensated by several references to characters and scenarios from the video games (such as the cameo of Travis Grady from Silent Hill: Origins).
However, the rushed plot eliminates the tension and symbolism from the games, and makes the monsters and carnage seem generic (there is a sequence involving mannequins that shows what would have happened if H.R. Giger had directed the Doctor Who episode “Rose.”)
Is Silent Hill worth seeing? It depends on one’s preferences for horror films. The aesthetic is tied primarily to the nineties and present: if one enjoys the content/aesthetic in films such as Alien, the reboot of The House on Haunted Hill (1999), and The Shining, then, I think the film might appeal. Even in the grossly reduced film, the threads involving a father-and-daughter relationship, as well as the theme of un-repented sin are intriguing. If it had had been permitted breathing room, it would have been an unrivaled film.