[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]
After the "success" of the first film (it is considered to be one of the best video game adaptations thus far), a sequel was almost immediately green-lit. However, director Christoph Gans stated that he wanted to work on other projects and left the sequel. That's when Michael J. Bassett stepped up. However, we were going to get a return of Roger Avary as a writer... until he was arrested for vehicular manslaughter. Bassett also took over as writer. And it has taken 6 years to get this sequel that quite a few people, myself included, have been waiting for.
The film is based on Silent Hill 3. The story follows the hero of the first game, Harry Mason, and his daughter, Heather. But someone named Claudia in Silent Hill has sent a detective named Douglas Cartland to find her and ends up killing Harry. Heather then travels to Silent Hill to exact revenge on Claudia. She also eventually discovers she's the grown version of Alessa/Cheryl from the first game. But the story here doesn't really matter, as from what I've read and heard, the film basically takes names and a few plot points and disregards everything else.
So after all these years of waiting and anticipation... what'd I think?
For those who don't know, I really dig the first film. I was ticked off at the original of the first film, as well, and have been highly anticipating a sequel ever since. So when I heard this was finally happening, I couldn't have been more stoked. It was one of my most anticipated films of the year. I would finally see what happened next after that terrible ending of the first film, and then hopefully get another good film to follow up. Was is everything I hoped for?
Heather Mason (Adelaide Clemens) has moved all around the country with her dad, Harry (Sean Bean) since an incident when she was a child that she has no memory of. But weird things start happening in her new town, going right along with some terrible nightmares about a place called Silent Hill. Then her dad ends up being kidnapped and taken there. So Heather teams up with another new student named Vincent (Kit Harington) to go to Silent Hill to rescue her dad... but there's more to what's going on then she knows.
I don't often say things like this in reviews, but I'm pretty sure this one deserves it: Holy Fuckballs, this movie blew. Like, I've seen a ton of bad movies. I basically make a habit of seeing terrible movies. I have this entire Video Game Movies series (that I decided to willingly do), for crying out loud. The first film is one of--if not the--best video game movie. This one is, while not the worst, pretty damn terrible. This was like a notch above old school Uwe Boll, but without the camp.
First and foremost, the script is so painfully bad. The dialogue often had me thinking "PEOPLE DON'T TALK LIKE THAT!" Seriously. The dialogue was so stilted and clunky and unrealistic. And the story itself was a disaster. It tried to take mainly from Silent Hill 3, but I doubt (no matter what they say) that anybody involved has ever played any of the games. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if the writers or director had even seen the first film. Why? Because it ignores half the damn thing--but I'll get into that in a minute. Anyway, the story makes no damn sense. Everything that's happening is so illogical, and I'm pretty sure even the writers didn't know what was going on in the story. But the reason I said they didn't pay attention to anything in this series (games or film) is because it doesn't follow how a Silent Hill story works. It's supposed to be slow reveal where all the little mysteries and the monsters eventually build up to reveal some major secret about the characters and some fantastic backstory that really gets psychological on you. They're supposed to be this horror-noir, basically. But here, they take the biggest mystery of the game they're basing this on--that Heather is actually Sharon (or Cheryl in the games)--and announce that to you in the opening minutes of the film. Then it just throws in monsters for no reason. Even the first film had a reason for different monsters to exist in that particular nightmare. Here? They're just there because they wanted them to be there. No connection to the story at all.
Now I'm gonna get into some spoiler territory for both this film and the previous film. I'll let you know when I'm done with spoilers. So here we go. (SPOILERS) The entire point of the ending of the first film is that Sharon's mother, Rose, helps Alessa get her revenge by getting her into the church to kill everyone. She does so, and then Sharon and Alessa merge together and become one. The first film then ends by Sharon and her mom leaving the actual Silent Hill town, but still stuck in the "other realm." It's clear that Alessa has possessed Sharon. So here's Silent Hill: Revelation: Somehow, Rose figured out a way to get Sharon out of the "other realm," but got stuck there herself. Rose tells her husband, Christopher (Sean Bean), that people will try to come after Sharon so they have to keep on the run. That's why they move around so much and keep changing their names. So now Christopher is Harry and Sharon is Heather. But here's the kicker... they completely ignore the fact that Alessa got her revenge and then possessed Sharon. They somehow separated again and she wants revenge again on some other people, one of which being the baddie in the last film's sister (played here by Carrie-Ann Moss). And then the way they get Sharon out of the realm is such a piss-poor explanation-without-being-an-actual-explanation that I'm not sure if it makes the original's ending seem worse or is now better in comparison to what this film delivers. It was just a disaster of a connection. (END SPOILERS)
Now let's move on in to the acting. Not only was this easily some of the worst dialogue I've heard in a Hollywood production in a long time, but it was made even worse by the God-awful acting in the film. And I know at least Sean Bean has acting skills, and I've heard some of these other people do, too. But not in this movie. Not by a long shot. Our leads are basically two Brits and an Aussie, and none of them can hold their American accent. Not even Sean Bean! I swear, everybody slips out of their accents at least a couple times throughout the film (Hell, you can hear Adelaide do it in the trailer!). But every last person, including Radha Mitchell in a brief cameo near the start, gives such a clunky performance. I can't say it quite reaches Chris Klein-in-Legend-of-Chun-Li levels of badness, but it's still super clunky. There's a scene in the first act where Sean Bean is talking to Radha Mitchell in a mirror (yeah), and they keep calling each other "my love" in the most awkward way. It's so painful to watch and/or listen to. I think that was the first time I thought about walking out. (I will say, though, that Malcolm McDowell's brief appearance was great, because at least there he could ham it up and make it entertaining.)
And here's another thing. The first film relied on a building of tension and atmosphere. There was an air of mystery to everything, and it slowly build up the creepy and WTF factor. And it was a gorgeous looking film. To top it off, almost everything in that movie was done practically (with a couple notable exceptions). But the majority of the monsters were just guys in suits, and it looked fantastic. Here, they rely on a ton of really shitty CGI, especially in the case of the mannequin spider/scorpion thingy (also shown in the trailers). Not only did that scene not have anything to do with anything, it looked flat-out horrible. That was just some really bad CGI. And there's no atmosphere in this film. I never felt creeped out. I never felt any tension. And nothing looked as good or as stylish as the first film. There was nothing like the "Colin" scene in the first film.
There is some action in the film, and there actually are a couple good moments. Unfortunately, I'd already seen one of them a thousand times from the trailers and one of the big released scenes. The "Nurses" scene with Vincent is one of the best parts of the movie, and I'd already seen basically the entire thing before the film was even released. There was also maybe one scene near the end that I kinda liked, too, but that was about it. At least there was a final fight scene. If the movie ended with the most Epic-Hug-Battle ever, I'd have been even more pissed (that moment in and of itself was just ridiculous).
Overall, the film was just awful. And even worse, it was disappointing. Painfully disappointing, at that. I'd been anticipating this film for 6 years, and I get this piece of garbage. There's no atmosphere. No scares (outside the 'jump' variety The dialogue is terrible. The acting is terrible. Nothing makes any sense. It doesn't even look good. And, worst of all, it seemingly just ignores 98% of the first movie. Even if you've been anticipating this like I have, don't bother. It's not worth your time.
The Zed Word
(P.S. That being said, this was probably some of the best damn 3D I've ever seen. Holy crap, that was amazing.)