There’s an actual phobia called “Pediophobia” that is the irrational fear of dolls and mannequins. If there were a fear of bad horror movies, it might be called “Silenthillophobia”. Pediophobes will have a hard time sitting through Silent Hill: Revelation, but Silenthillophbes shouldn’t even try to sit through it.
I’m being hard on it because its standout scene is an odd little set piece with a giant spider made out of mannequin parts. This creature spins its web around human victims who then turn into mannequins off of which the spider removes their heads to attach to its appendages. It’s a little creepy, I suppose, and will cause Pediophobes who see it to run away from department store display windows, screaming like little girls. But anyone else will likely find it a bit silly.
I’m also being hard on Silent Hill: Revelation because I didn’t like the first Silent Hill (2006) and yet the sequel makes it feel like a masterpiece of modern cinema. I complained about the original that during its overlong running time (over 2 hours) there was too little story too late and that characters were as one-dimensional as the video game on which it was based. Ironically, the follow-up crams too much plot and character development into too little time (94 minutes). Yet the movie feels twice as long!
Like the first movie, Silent Hill: Revelation starts out strong. As the foggy underworld of the burning ghost town bleeds into the real world, any normal location can become a horrifying haunted house. But the dreams of now-18 year old Sharon (Adelaide Clemens) are scarier than anything she’ll eventually face. Her vision of a deserted amusement park carousel is like something out of Hellraiser; however, when she actually encounters it, it doesn’t have the same characteristics that made it so scary. I wanted to see those hooked and chained human seats one more time.
The weakest part of Silent Hill: Revelation is when Sharon finally gets to the actual town of Silent Hill. It’s an anticlimactic let-down instead of an exciting thrill. Director Michael J. Bassett must not have received the same budget as his predecessor because the actual halls of the Silent Hill buildings don’t feel authentic to me. I know what the problem is, though, and it lies with the story.
You see, most of the time, Sharon is not running around in the ghost town part of Silent Hill. She’s actually running around in its real world version. And the villains aren’t the wonderful creatures who come out when the whistles blow, but a lame society of survivors hell-bent on capturing Sharon. By the way, I’m not sure why they want to capture her; it’s either because they think she can save them or they think they must destroy her. Anyway, it’s not always clear where exactly she is, except of course, it’s apparent she’s on a movie studio soundstage or in front of a green screen.
I mentioned too much plot. That may not be entirely true. But when the entire story is compacted in a conversation between two people, it feels like too much. How about letting the characters discover something for themselves rather than having it told to them. In small doses, it might make sense within the larger framework, but here it’s simply ridiculous. It sort of reminds me of those long monologues that movie villains used to make to wrap things up in a couple of minutes.
So much would be forgivable if Silent Hill: Revelation had more eye candy than just a couple small pieces. But the real life “cathedral” of the secret society is laughably cheesy. It’s almost Plan 9-bad, complete with a curtain hanging as the backdrop. The atmosphere at the beginning is terrific, but it’s like they shot the movie chronologically and by the time they got ¾ through, they ran out of resources.