Much like its predecessor, 'Silent Hill: Revelation' is all visuals but none of the effectively atmospheric scares which made its inspiration a videogame favorite. One major difference between both movies is that this sequel, set several years after the conclusion of the first, goes one step further with the atmosphere but delivers a horribly boring and needlessly complex storyline. In fact, the plot, which was written by the movie's director Michael J Bassett ('Deathwatch,' 'Solomon Kane'), is a bit befuddling and stretches the imagination into pure absurdity — some nonsense about the last speck of goodness and humanity along with strict rules about leaving the town. Oh, and by the way, Pyramid Head isn't all that bad once you get to know him.
Right from the start, the movie creates a haunted carnival-ride feel that eventually ends on an actual abandoned creepy carnival that looks every bit haunted. A shopping mall slowly transforms from the customary blank, lifeless fluorescent lighting to a sinister red-orange palette with brown-amber rust spots covering the walls. A birthday party goes from cheerful, face-painted children to carnivorous animals eating a variety of blood-drenched grotesqueries while a freakishly disturbing clown leads in the unsettling festivities. Our heroine, teenager Sharon (Adelaide Clemens), is witness to all this while her father (Sean Bean) is kidnapped and taken back to the alternate dimension-bending town of Silent Hill.
The entire mall sequence is like the perfect metaphor for the experience of watching this dreaded mess. A frightful hallucination is intended to disturb and distract Sharon while dear-ole dad is hauled away without much struggle. The character's nightmarish delusion finishes with the gruesome death of Martin Donovan and a ridiculous murder subplot that abruptly stops. For audiences, as certain plot points unfold before us, the atmospheric visuals and terrific set designs divert our minds from noticing the story's weaknesses, such as the aforementioned subplot which is stupidly maddening. Later, when questions arise about a pair of medallions that must be joined, Malcolm McDowell shows up to provide more exposition in an asylum sequence that only serves as an excuse for the filmmakers to shoot a scene with scary, faceless nurses.
Radha Mitchell and Deborah Kara Unger from the first movie also make cameo appearances, but their presence amazingly serves no benefit or significance whatsoever to the overall narrative. Bean, who is otherwise a brilliant actor to watch on screen, is reduced to little more than a plot device, spending much of his time tied helplessly to a statue. Fellow 'Game of Thrones' co-star Kit Harington stars as an inconsequential character with an obvious ulterior motive, tagging along with the Australian-born Clemens to Silent Hill and out of the blue turning into a romantic interest. The biggest surprise comes from a practically unrecognizable Carrie-Anne Moss as daunting cult leader Claudia Wolf, hiding a secret that leads to a climactic battle.
Again, the visuals reign supreme in this supernatural horror sequel, which was based on the survival videogame Silent Hill 3, taking clear precedence over an engaging story and decent characterization. Don't be surprise if you find yourself napping through some supposedly important plot conversations and suddenly waking in the middle of bombastically loud action sequences. Even worse is realizing that you didn't miss anything of significance in this preposterously complicated story. Worse still is that in order to get through this outrageously ghastly dreck, you might want to save your place, much like the actual game, and come back to it later to finish. But in the end, no one wins.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings 'Silent Hill: Revelation' to Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with a code for an UltraViolet Digital Copy. Inside a blue, eco-elite keepcase with a glossy slipcover, a Region Free, BD50 disc sits comfortably opposite a DVD-9 copy of the movie. The disc is excruciatingly slow at startup, likely due to BD-Live connectivity and a need to play internet-based trailers. Once it's done, viewers are taken to a main menu with full-motion clips and music.
'Silent Hill: Revelation' debuts on Blu-ray with a great, if only a tad inconsistent 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode. Those inconsistencies are very slight and fairly negligible, possibly even intentional or as a result of shooting in digital 3D. In either case, brightness wavers in some spots, looking somewhat washed-out and grayish or showing a bit of crush here and there. At its best, black levels are excellent and spot-on, providing the 2.40:1 image a good deal of dimensionality. Shadow delineation is strong with plenty of visibility in the darker portions, and considering that so much of the movie takes place at night, that's a really good thing.
Contrast is generally stable and comfortably bright with crisp, clean whites, but highlights during the daylight sequences tend to run slightly hotter than normal, creating a bit of blooming. It's nothing too terrible, but it's there. Colors can seem exaggerated and largely artificial, especially in the primaries, but it also seems like a deliberate choice. Fine object and textural details are the transfer's best aspect, as every line and rust spot in the town's moody architecture is plain. From the individual bricks of buildings and stitching on clothing to every blemish and pore in facial complexions, the high-def presentation is very well-defined and distinct.
The videogame horror sequel also makes its way to Blu-ray with a fantastic and highly-stylized DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack.
The front soundstage is wide and expansive with excellent imaging and movement between the channels. Off-screen effects are convincing with clear directionality. The design comes with several moments of loud action sequences which push into the upper frequencies, and the mid-range handles each of them with superb poise and detailed clarity. Every clang and clank of metal crashing with metal is distant and crystal-clear without the slightest hint of distortion. A powerful and authoritative low-end often digs deep in many sequences, penetrating deep into the back of the room. All the while, dialogue remains precise and perfectly audible through all the sinister mayhem.
Rear activity is also a great deal of fun, delivering a variety of sounds throughout the soundscape which generate a very ominous environment. Those same action scenes have effects pan from the front to the back flawlessly or from side to side with discrete transparency. Even quieter moments display several terrific atmospherics, maintaining an outstanding and enjoyably immersive soundfield. All in all, it's a fantastic lossless mix for a movie that's largely a major disappointment.
Far as I can tell, bonus features are exclusive to Blu-ray.
A sequel to 2006's horror movie based on the popular survival videogame series, 'Silent Hill: Revelation' puts creative visual design ahead of plot and engaging characters. Relying heavily on a pre-existing fanbase and an audience familiar with the game for its success, the movie comes with a ridiculously over-complicated storyline that amounts to little more than a sleeping aide. The Blu-ray arrives with great picture quality and an excellent audio presentation, but supplements leave much to be desired. Ultimately, the overall package is a rental at best.