Silent Hill (2006) / Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (2012) Canada/France
I've been having a bit of fun with Eastern culture, especially in the way they take farce and blow it up to something that would NOT be tried in our button-down frowny face society (and we thought WE were the enlightened ones) and Manga that makes its way to the silver screen. But Westerners have their little tricks too, and one seems to be taking video games and making movies (some extremely successful) out of them (or vice versa).
One example off the top of my head is, of course, the 'Hi my name is Alice. I work for the Umbrella Corporation.' game/movie series Resident Evil. Silent Hill is another one. Maybe not wildly successful (movies), but I think pretty respectable. At least there are more versions of the Silent Hill video game than there are movies (eight that I know of).
|THIS is what I call a video game...|
Now I don't claim to be a great movie reviewer. I've just seen enough good (and incredibly bad) movies to know some of what to look for and what is great to make fun of. But I'm just as good at finding a good movie and not realizing it - and passing it off for a boring hour and a half on my television set. Wrong, wrong wrong. I had watched Silent Hill some time ago and despite it having a favorite female lead (Radha Mitchell) of mine, about all I remembered is some chick trying to find her whiny daughter in a town of ash for some reason. Duh to me.
They pushed Silent Hill: Revelation 3D pretty hard if I remember right. And I thought 'But the first one was so boooring.' Pffft. Obviously I had watched it in one of my fugues and hadn't paid much attention to it so I decided to find it again online and really pay attention this time. Huh, that was a lot of fun, NOT. Netflix had the second but not the first - and finding it was not easy. If you've had a similar experience with these 'free' streaming services you realize that 1. They're not free and 2. Even if they say they have the movie, they probably don't. AND if they want a credit card right away even if they promise they're not going to charge you STAY AWAY. There are plenty of sites where you can just watch the damn things without a fuss, you just have to look around a little.
I did and I found it - no close captioning but I've found that (so far) only Netflix seems to have that option. So I turned the volume up and payed attention this time. I'd forgotten that this film also includes Laurie Holden in a substantial role (we all knew and loved her as 'Andrea' on The Walking Dead) and Sean Bean as the frazzled father looking for his wife and daughter, not knowing that the whole time he's pretty much walking right past them (I'll explain that) and HE DOES NOT DIE.
This is a small giggle or SALTS because if Sean Bean is known for anything (besides being extremely handsome, a member of the original Fellowship in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and star or co-star of many films), is that he's repeatedly killed off in whatever he's in.
Silent Hill: So we have a mother Rose (Radha Mitchell) and troubled little girl Sharon (wonderfully played by Jodelle Ferland). They had adopted her with no problems, but lately she's been sleepwalking (and sleep drawing it seems) and the constant theme seems to be what she calls 'Silent Hill'. One night when her mother finds her at the edge of a cliff in her sleep (Okay who the hell lives near a steep cliff with no guard rail? Pffft. Oh, wait, I used to.) she has had enough and decides to try and find Silent Hill.
Her 'suspicious' actions and the obvious distress of her daughter attracts the attention of a motorcycle cop, Cybil (Laurie Holden) who begins to follow them. Her husband Christopher (Sean Bean) tries by phone to dissuade her but to the movie's credit this isn't a 'I'm gonna do what I want screw you.' type of thing. They love each other, but she is convinced the only way to get Sharon's nightmares to go away is to find out what the heck they're about in the first place.
Racing to elude Cybil who is now trying to stop them, they both crash their vehicles in movie duh style. All three lose consciousness. When Rose wakes, Sharon is gone, she is at the edge of Silent Hill, and a fine ash falls, blanketing everything like snow. Unless you've been by a huge fire, you don't know how claustrophobic that can be. We live near enough to St. Helens that when it blew, we were not in danger, but we had a constant coating of ash fall when it initially erupted, and each time it 'hiccuped' afterward. My high school class is probably unique in that we had our Homecoming Parade interrupted because of blinding ash. It can be frightening and also extremely dirty.
Anywho, Cybil, who also had been knocked out catches up and both try to find Sharon. Silent Hill is an abandoned mining town (Aw man, a whole TOWN? Think of how many teenage slasher movies you could make THERE.) that became unlivable after an underground explosion caused a constant burn underground (and hence all the ash).
Ah but there has to be the supernatural element, doesn't there? Here is where the movie makers tried really hard to make it like the video game, or at least like the vision they had for it, but that kind of thing would have taken tons of money that they had but not enough of. So we get a 'feel' of a whole underground 'people', misshapen, some literally on fire - quite a complex bit of imagery and pretty impressive, even if they didn't get to do everything they wanted to. And it turns out the town isn't abandoned completely - it is inhabited by a nasty cult who are, to make it simple, witch hunters - and that's what doomed them in the first place.
Back when the place was just a mining town, a red headed woman named Christabella (Alice Krige) led a doomsday cult that ferreted out the wicked to burn them... but not just on a stake - they had a sacred symbol they built a fire on (inside the church no less) and putting the victim on a tall ladder and lowering them slowly onto the fire. Nice people.
The last person they did this to was a young girl - any guess who it was? Okay her name was Alessa who was targeted for being a bastard (that's the child-without-a-father kind) which apparently gave them an excuse to charge her with being a witch (they've been doing that for a long time apparently) - but when they burned her, the symbol she was burning on broke and she lived. Umm, what? That's probably where I lost interest the first time.
But that was a shame because this turns into a genuine freaky deaky kind of fun movie with monsters, twists and great special effects. See Alessa, burnt but alive, was taken to the hospital where her hate grew until it became an entity in itself. The last goodness in her became a baby - who was dropped off at an orphanage. Okay that makes no sense whatsoever but that's why they call it fantasy so shut up.
Meanwhile back at the farm - uh, back with the husband - Christopher manages to get the local police involved in trying to find his family. They're mostly helping him because they're missing a police officer though - they don't really care about him or why he's there. Typical. The main officer, Thomas, is played by Kim Coates, another fave character who just oozes sleaze when he plays a bad guy. He's really terrific.
Although the police don't admit it, they've got a pretty good idea of what happened, most having had either lived in the town before it was abandoned or had relatives who did. Since they're not real helpful, Christopher helps himself to the records in the nearby orphanage where Sharon came from and sees that, somehow, their little girl should be over 40 years old. I should look that good.
But of course Sharon is the 'baby' spawned by Alessa - the last good part of her left. And Rose and Cybil have to find her before Alessa, uh, what's Alessa going to do with her exactly? That part I was foggy on but that's not surprising. So Cybil sacrifices herself and Rose goes down down down into the nightmare of the people that time forgot. No, wait, people that got exactly what they deserved. Great, great special effects keep your interest as we basically have a chase scene that goes for a while.
I could explain the ending but I'd probably muck it up 'cause even if the movie makers were forced to take a truly grand idea of an ending and smush it down into what they could afford it's a great one. But I can tell you Rose and Sharon drive out of Silent Hill - but should have been tipped off that things were not all right because the ash still fell - all the way home. When they get there, the house is empty but Rose can feel that Christopher is there. He is. In the 'real' world'. They show that while both occupy the same space it is in different realities as where Rose is, ash falls but with Christopher, it is raining. A bittersweet ending.
Silent Hill: Revelation 3D: This is currently streaming on Netflix and I do recommend it - but it was not as satisfying as the first one (are they ever?) although they ramped up the special effects and I suppose the 3D element was supposed to make it more 'special' although seeing it I didn't see a whole lot of shots where it would have been worth the extra price. Eh, it always gives me a headache anyway.
We start with Christopher and Sharon. Immediately (especially if you've just watched the first one) there's a WTH element - Rose and Sharon were stuck, right? So they've got some 'splaining to do before the action can really begin. It's a hurried one and not that great.
Christopher has told Sharon (who should have been played by the original actress, since she's 18 and beautiful it would have been perfect) that her mother died in a car crash and he killed a man in self-defense and so both are on the run with new identities - Harry and Heather Mason. He hasn't told her the truth, that her mother is alive but the remaining psychos from Silent Hill are after her because of her affiliation with Alessa, the evil that keeps them trapped (damned, doomed, whatever) in the ash covered town.
So in hurry-and-tell-a-lot-really-fast style we find that Rose somehow had gotten half of a talisman called the Seal of Metatron. Who? Metatron is an archangel in Judaism. According to Jewish medieval apocryphal beliefs, he is Enoch, ancestor of Noah, transformed into an angel. What does that have to do with Silent Hill? Not a damned thing. Shut up.
Anywho, she only had half so only one of them could 'go back' to the real world (?!?) and she sent Sharon. But Sharon/Heather is still having nightmares - now not only does she dream of the town but a carnival (What is it about carnivals that are so creepy all by themselves? They don't even have to be haunted or damned, they're just creepy.) full of unspeakable things.
So the Masons are in a new town and she's in a new school - again. When the other teenagers begin their heckling she beats them to it and tells all of them off (I WISH I could have done that when I was in school) so that they will leave her alone. She meets fellow new student Vincent and they become friendly. But of course Vincent is from Silent Hill, instructed to find and bring her there. Yeah I know, I know, how come they can cross over so easily and cross back but Rose and Sharon couldn't? Shut up.
So despite Christopher/Harry's best laid plans as a promise to Rose, Sharon/Heather is caught and now in Silent Hill. We still have the town but they've kind of gotten away from the underground part. Now instead, there's the town and a nasty carnival. Oh goody. There are some creatures that were there in the first and some new ones, some kind of cool. My favorite were the 'nurses' with no faces who only moved when they heard noises, lightening quick with cutting tools but freezing when there was no sound.
Vincent, of course, is the son of the NEW psycho leader of the cult of Silent Hill and tries to explain to them that Heather is innocent, not like Alessa, but they want her anyway. And she wants to find her father, who (spoiler alert) DOES NOT DIE IN THIS MOVIE EITHER! WTH Sean Bean... you plan on surviving your roles from now on? <SALTS> So Heather takes the half of the seal, being told by Vincent that his bound, insane grandfather has the other half - with both she can save her mother. The grandfather (a great bit from another favorite, Malcolm McDowell) indeed has the other half - inside his chest. He takes Heather's half and shoves it in there (ouch) making it complete but doesn't get to keep it long - Heather rips it from his chest (ouch again).
Now we get to the amusement park. Heather confronts the evil part of Alessa and, uh, absorbs her. Shut up. Now Alessa is complete - uh, I guess, except for the burnt part. She then takes the talisman and exposes the current leader of the cult, Claudia (saying she's Christabella's sister - of course) of being one of the 'monsters' inhabiting Silent Hill. Since Heather is now also Alessa she summons another monster to defeat Claudia, and rescues Vincent and her father.
The ash stops and the town begins to clear. As they are about to leave, Christopher/Harry, who has 'felt' Rose visit him (Radha got only a small part in this one) announces he's staying behind to find Rose, now that Heather is safe and he has kept his promise. He walks back into the town.
Vincent and Heather leave, not seeing that the town is again fading away. They catch a ride with a trucker who says his name is Travis Grady. This is a nod to one of Silent Hill's video games - Silent Hill: Origins, a prequel to the other games. In that game, Travis searches for info on a girl he rescued from a fire and along the way unlocks repressed childhood memories... but that's another story and I don't play.
So Silent Hill - neat but confusing (even paying close attention). Silent Hill: Revelation - despite being released six years after the first one still seems a bit rushed in the story department although some awesome monsters and effects - not worth the extra money for 3D though.