Why is Pyramid Head even here?!
Oh, where to start? Silent Hill: Revelation has been on Netflix so I’ve been meaning to watch it in the comfort of my own living room for a while now. It is only an hour and a half of time spent wishing this wasn’t a sub par video game-to-film adaptation, even of its own niche. While I won’t put it on par with the last couple of Resident Evil movies they’ve churned out, it is still pretty abysmal.
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume the following people are the only ones who went out of their way to see this film: fans of the video game, fans of horror movies, and unfortunate tag alongs. I’m a fan of the video game, of course. Actually, Silent Hill 3 (the video game entry this is loosely based on) was the first Silent Hill I managed to complete. Sure, I had all the lights on and hugged a strategy guide while playing, but I did it! Like other Silent Hill fans, SH3 left a lasting impression on me. I tried to leave my lofty impressions at the door when I entered the movie theater to see this for the first time, but I’m still amazed at the screenwriter’s complete disregard for the base material. Seriously. Filmmakers must have something against taking a perfectly understandable video game story and recycling it into a movie. I have no problem seeing the same plot regurgitated into a film. I’d imagine that’s why fans go to see these movies. I don’t want to speak for everyone, but when I go see a movie based on a video game or a book I’ve read, I want it to be a live-action representation of what I’ve imagined based on the source material. Some artistic license is understandable. A complete bastardization is not.
I think those grounds alone, not counting what I’ll be going on about soon, are enough for die-hard fans to be disappointed about. People who like horror movies who went to see this for a Halloween fright were probably disappointed as well. Because, really, this movie ain’t scary. It has some good imagery (I’m a sucker for the Otherworld transitions), but nothing compares to the first Silent Hill movie. See, the first Silent Hill movie completely screwed with the story as well. But it had horrifying events and images that screamed Silent Hill. I’ve only watched the first SH movie twice and there are scenes I can instantly recall with a shudder. Barbed-wire rape scene, anyone?
Revelations did no such thing for me. The only part that really stuck out for me was the mannequin room. Not because it scarred me for life, either. Just because I liked that part in the game and the new mannequin monster had a cool design. I really wish they would’ve made real-life counterparts to some of the monsters in SH3. The annoying Double Head dogs (damn I hated those things), the frustrating Pendulums, the disgusting “Insane Cancer” enemies… None of them got any love. In fact, all we got of Valtiel was a freakin’ statue. Sure, the statue Sean Bean got to hang from was neat, but I wanted to see Valtiel, just like in the game! But no, they basically swapped his role with Pyramid Head. Valtiel was supposed to be Heather’s “guardian,” to ensure she made it to Silent Hill so god could be born. I’m so annoyed with Pyramid Head being Silent Hill’s mascot. Anyone who has played Silent Hill 2 can tell you Pyramid Head is the bomb diggity but he doesn’t belong anywhere except SH2. He is a figment of James Sunderland’s imagination, for crying out loud! While I appreciate being able to see Pyramid Head in sweet HD lopping off limbs and heads, he’s being cheapened and it upsets me.
One basic storytelling rule I was given while obtaining my creative writing degree that I still agree with is, “Show, don’t tell.” I personally feel that this applies to all kinds of storytelling; be it novel, film or video game. Use action and movement to show what you’re trying to get across, don’t bore your audience with history lessons and soliloquies. Revelations had way too much “Blah blah The Order, blah blah Alessa,” moments and not enough “For the love of god what is going on?!” moments. Even the quirky “Happy Birthday” phone call from Leonard would have been welcome. Again, not enough twisted and frightening moments to make this Silent Hill or horror movie material. They’re too busy boring the audience to death with a Silent Hill history lesson.
The acting in the movie was as good as it was gonna get, given the poor dialogue. Sean Bean’s “Ode to Rose” in the beginning was pretty terrible. Anything that isn’t a Shakespeare sonnet that starts off with, “Rose, my love,” instigates my gag reflex. I have no complaints about anything else I’ve seen Sean Bean in, but again, the poor writing probably has a lot to do with it. Much like Kit Harrington trying to pull off a teenage Vincent the writers threw in so Heather could have a love interest… puke! Their entire “Dream Versus Reality” conversation that somehow devolved into Vincent trying out the world’s worst pick-up line was painful to watch. I really can’t believe they did that to his character. AND **SPOILER** they killed off Douglas in the first twenty minutes of the movie! He was creepy, but still. At that point I knew there was no chance for the movie to have the “Possessed Heather” ending.
I know I keep coming back to how they mutilated the story and characters, but I can’t help it. I will at least say this: before seeing Revelations for the first time, I KNEW no one would have the balls to include Heather puking up a fetus and then show crazy Claudia choking it down, only to explode when “giving birth” to god. I knew that scene would never make the final cut in a movie being marketed to relatively mainstream media. I didn’t get my hopes that high. But the alternate ending written for the movie, while including Pyramid Head kicking ass and not taking any names, still left a bit to be desired. The ending teaser makes me almost hope they do another movie. Do Downpour’s story (the story was one of the few things I liked about Downpour), even though I know they’ll mess it up, have daddy and mommy reunite, and end this crap. Bow down gracefully instead of dragging it on through a million installments like Resident Evil.
They did right by including songs from the game soundtracks. The work Akira Yamaoka did on Silent Hill 2 and 3 is incredible. The music, opening dream sequence, and mannequin room were the only parts of the movie that satiated me. Unfortunately, they were too brief and too spaced out.
Fans of the video games will hang on throughout the movie, hoping to feel like they’re being transported back to Silent Hill. I fear Revelations is too dull and not engaging enough to interest anyone else. I’m no movie critic by any means, but I can tell you that when it comes to movie adaptations of video games, this is one of the lowest of the low.