Return to a place of insanity and blood-curdling chills in this shocking sequel to one of the most surreal and gruesome horror films ever created. Heather Mason (Adelaide Clemens) and her father (Sean Bean) have always tried to stay one step ahead of the malevolent forces intent on their destruction. But on the eve of her 18th birthday, a dangerous revelation leads her deeper into a demonic world that threatens to trap her in a nightmarish landscape forever. Based on the hugely popular video game series and written and directed by Michael J. Bassett (Deathwatch), it’s a psychological trip into absolute terror unlike anything you’ve ever known.
At a time when the horror genre was trending towards minimalist Blair Witchisms, 2006's video game adaptation Silent Hill stood out as a nicely overt in-your-face shock, blending some remarkably icky creature effects with an unsettling dream logic designed to keep the audience in a constant state of wobble. (To steal a quote from drive-in movie maven Joe Bob Briggs, it was a movie where absolutely anything could happen at any time.) Silent Hill: Revelation, as indicated in the subhead, aims to unlock some of the mystery surrounding the franchise, a move that unfortunately dissolves much of the previous installment's operatic, Dario Argento-inspired vibe. That said, even if it can't replicate the original's unnervingly oogy surrealism, it still retains enough of the source material's grotty what-the-heck-was-that essence to warrant a watch. Making a valiant effort at combining the third game of the series with the plotline of the first film (original heroine Radha Mitchell makes an eyeblink cameo), the story follows a teenage girl (Adelaide Clemens) on the run with her father (the returning Sean Bean) while haunted by memories of the titular haunted town. When her dad disappears, she must return to Silent Hill to face her fears, the majority of which take the form of gloppy latex creatures. Writer-director Michael J. Bassett (Solomon Kane) has assembled an intriguingly bizarre cast to populate his freak show, with respected folks such as Malcolm McDowell, Martin Donovan, and a nearly unrecognizable Carrie-Anne Moss all diving into the weirdness with gusto. (Game of Thrones fans should note that Kit Harington, a.k.a. Jon Snow, also makes a rare beardless appearance.) Unfortunately, the scenes where things aren't oozing out of the walls prove to be rather flat, with dialogue that falls below the level of even most video game adaptations. Thankfully, however, Bassett's film proves much more successful when trotting out the monsters, with the freaky nurses and Giant Pyramid Heads from the original sharing the stage with some worthy new critters, most notably a showstopping Aracno-Mannequin thing that delivers a welcome dose of nightmare fuel. For those weary of the briefly glimpsed horrors of found footage, they should find that this delivers the goods, big as life and twice as ugly. --Andrew Wright