I’m currently struggling my way through NanoWriMo (Novel writing month) and pretty much getting nowhere; so I took a break from writing about a crime fighting lesbian Nun death squad, and went to see ‘Silent Hill Revelations’. I had meant to go see this on its Halloween release date but they kindly held a special showing of ‘The Shining’ (1980) on that day; so it was obvious what I was going to end up doing instead.
The first Silent Hill movie is quite old now; it was released in 2006; before the games started to suck (although shattered memories is excellent) and it holds an important place in my heart, it’s not a brilliant film; it’s a pretty average modern horror, but as a video game movie it’s one of the better efforts. It contains some moments of genuine creeps and has some good set pieces particularly the bits they borrow from the games. But it means more to me than your average movie because I’ve attached sentiment to it. I’m a huge fan of the games, and at the time of its release I was with the girl I tend to describe as being the love of my life, or at least so far (I’m planning on buying a full size arcade machine, that will take her place). And even though she hated horror films we went to see this, as she was interested in getting involved in things that I like. I remember being a little embarrassed when the priestess gets her cooch crammed full of barb wire but overall, we had a good time. Sadly I haven’t seen ‘Silent Hill’ in a few years now as the relationship ended, and the film is strangely painful to watch; but these are the things of life, and a little pain never did any one any harm. I think Chuck Palahnuik said it best.
‘People don’t want their lives fixed. Nobody wants their problems solved. Their dramas. Their distractions. Their stories resolved. Their messes cleaned up. Because what would they have left? Just the big scary unknown’
So I think I’ll hold on to the feeling for a little longer.
‘Silent Hill Revelations’ takes its cue from ‘Silent Hill 3’, which is the true sequel to the first Silent Hill game, ‘Silent Hill 2’ was a spin off title. And as the first Silent Hill film was based on the first game it‘s a logical choice to skip the second game as a source of inspiration.
At the start of ‘Silent Hill Revelations’ we find Christopher and Sharon from the first film living life on the run, under the names of Harry and Heather (the original names from the game) because of an intruder that Harry killed many years earlier, who is later revealed to be a member of the order; the religious sect from Silent Hill who are trying to find Sharon so they can sacrifice her to stop Alessa and release their town from the darkness.
Sharon is fast approaching her seventeenth birthday and is just starting a new school where she meets Vincent; who is also there on his first day and dresses like an extra from a Twilight or maybe he’s trying to audition for the part of Ted Logan in the remake of ‘Bill and teds excellent adventure’ (1989) either way he looks like an anachronistic douche bag, he immediately tries to hit on Sharon, who rebukes his efforts, maybe he’d have more luck if he wasn’t wearing that stupid fucking waist coat white t-shirt combo, hell if I know ‘I don’t understand dames’. While in school Sharon starts to have strange visions; journeying into the dark world, even though she is not in Silent Hill. Sharon soon realises that someone is following her so she goes to the shopping mall to wait for instructions from Harry, while she is there the dark world starts to bleed into reality again and the person following her reveals himself to be a detective that was hired by the Order to find her, he warns her of their nefarious plans and then is dispatched by a reject Cenobite. Sharon goes home to find out that her father Harry has been kidnapped and written on the wall in blood is an order for her to go to Silent Hill. So she sets off with Vincent in tow to rescue her old man.
There is more to it than that, but if I was to go through it in to much detail then this review would be a couple of thousand words long, because ‘Silent Hill Revelations’ is just full of random shit that seem to take place with no rhyme or reason. Usually a movie will have a build up to events instead ‘Silent Hill Revelations’ just springs it on you. Some of it is explained away by Sharon reading a note book written by her father, so when she meets Dahlia and uses her name we don’t ask how did you know who she is? we just accept that she probably read about her in the book. But all through this film we are presented with nonsensical situations based solely on the fact that they would make good set pieces. Personally I think it’s because Michael J Basset studied at the Resident evil school of film making; where the most important thing is keeping the story moving through any means, showing as much cool shit as is possible; and not worrying about explaining any of it away.
Trying to rationalise the actions and events in the film is impossible, I’ll list some of the bizarre leaps the film makes with little or no explanation. Vincent turns out to be an agent from Silent Hill but ends up helping Sharon. Sharon has to meet Vincent’s grandfather; upon meeting him he promptly turns into a demon and attacks her. And my favourite; Vincent is taken to Brookhaven asylum; tied to a gurney and wheeled into a room full of the staby nurses from the first film, by two members of the order. These guys happily just walk into this room full of homicidal ugly birds with rocking bods as if it’s nothing, and then get slaughtered for their stupidity. All so that we can have a cool escape scene. These two members of the order have lived in the darkness for how long? They know these nurses are dangerous, the lack of faces and prominent presence of sharp implements should at least tell them that, if not previous experiences. It’s a good scene but fucking stupid. And it’s just an example of the total lack of coherence and reality to this film. I mean seriously, the Order’s head quarters are hidden in an abandoned amusement park. Did they go to the Scooby Doo school of evil villainy or something WTF.
The other problem with this movie is that it’s a horror film but there is no real feeling of threat. I never once feared for Sharon. It’s true that she see’s some horrible things in her journey through Silent Hill, but even when she runs into the Pyramid head he ignores her. It makes it feel like a fair ground ride. It’s almost as if you are watching someone walk through a spook house. You see some scary disturbing imagery but ultimately it’s just a ride and you know there is no real danger.
The six years we waited for this film wasn’t worth it. I’m underwhelmed and unimpressed. If you want to watch a similarly structured movie watch the Resident Evil films, they are just as dumb but a lot more fun than this.
I’ve always had what you would describe as being a strained relationship with the Resident Evil films. As a huge fan of the games the first film disappointed me by omitting any of the series’ well established characters. But overall it’s not a bad movie, and I generally enjoyed it, admittedly it would have been better if George Romero had been left on the project, but we can’t always have what we want.
Then they went and made a sequel, Resident Evil Apocalypse (2004). Shit! What a mess; it was just a bunch of random scenes linked together with the flimsiest of storylines. It was as if someone had said what would you like to see in the film? Written a bunch of set pieces, and then tried to fit a story around them. It was such a departure from the first film that I took an instant disliking to it. I couldn’t understand how they could take a horror game and turn it in to a caricature of an action film. It’s so over the top and ridiculous even I thought it was stupid, and I’ll watch any old shit. So I stayed away from the sequels Resident Evil Extinction (2007) and Resident Evil Afterlife (2010), until a couple of months a go. When I found myself sitting down to watch Afterlife, because I’m lazy and I couldn’t be arsed to find something productive to do with my time. The surprising thing was I liked it. So I watched Extinction next; and I like that one as well. So it was inevitable with the release of Resident Evil Retribution (2012) that I would find myself sat in the cinema with my 3D glasses on looking forward to seeing Milla Jovovich in the third dimension.
The one thing that strikes me about the Resident Evil films is that even though they are a part of a series Paul W S Anderson has no problems with ditching or just plain ignoring events and characters from earlier movies. Retribution is no different, K-Mart and Chris Redfield are no where to be seen. Alice doesn’t even Bat an eyelid that the girl she spent the whole of Afterlife trying to save is no longer around, although I’m sure they’ll both turn up in the next one. At the end of Afterlife we see a fleet of Umbrella attack helicopters flying towards the umbrella prisoner ship. Retribution kicks off straight from this moment. In the ensuing fracas Alice is taken prisoner and held in a secret Umbrella base (another one!) Where she successfully escapes and starts to cause all sorts of mischief while wearing Umbrella sanctioned bondage gear.
It turns out that Alice was broken out by Ada Wong, who has a team of mercenaries making there way into the facility to help them both escape. This team includes Barry Burton and Leon S Kennedy who looks like he’s channelling the spirit of a young Dolph Lundgren, and for some unexplained reason Luther West who’s gone from being an ex-basketball player to a trained soldier, because this is after all a Resident Evil movie and shit like this doesn’t need explaining, ever.
If you’ve seen the other films then you pretty much know what to expect, because Anderson hasn’t deviated from the formulae he used in the last three entries in the series. However this time he’s out done himself. This particular Umbrella facility is used to simulate T-Virus outbreaks in various cities, so we have Moscow, New York, Tokyo and Suburbia all represented and ready to be shot to shit by the cast. The action sequences are truly magnificent, and the liberal bouts of fisticuffs are well handled, we even get a car chase through the streets of Moscow. The effects as ever are top notch despite the use of GG blood. Overall there’s nothing new here; but I’ve come to love these films, and it feels good to catch up with Alice and the Zombie ravaged world she lives in.
The best way for me to describe it is; it’s Resident Evil 5. It’s the cinematic equivalent of Candy Floss, there’s nothing there; and what little substance there is, is bad for you. But it’s colourful and fun and a little won’t hurt you every now and again. Besides it’s got Milla Jovovich, and you can always go see Looper (2012) afterwards.
I guess the best thing to suggest for you to watch in this films place is any of the previous entries in to the series, but I can’t let you go without suggesting a classic piece of Zombie asshatery in Retributions place; so go watch Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979) it’s shit; in an awesome way.