Silent Hill: in which the death of acting is glimpsed

October 28, 2012

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D
Grade: 79
Cast:Adelaide Clemens, Kit Harington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Sean Bean, Martin Donovan, Deborah Kara Unger, Roberto Campanella, Malcolm McDowell, Radha Mitchell, Heather Marks, Peter Outerbridge
Director: Michael J. Bassett
Rating: R, for for brief nudity and violence.
Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes.

By Andy Webster for the New York Times

The distinction between actors and special effects shrinks ever further in the video-game-turned-horror-film Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, which reduces its human players to plastic action figures in tired genre settings. A sequel to Silent Hill from 2006, the movie follows Heather (Adelaide Clemens), now almost 18, who has had to change her name from Alessa in her wanderings with her father (Sean Bean). The back story — and the current one — are hazy, but apparently Heather’s mom (Radha Mitchell) was lost to Silent Hill, a town-dreamscape of shifting environments, and now Dad has been spirited away and Heather must rescue him.

With her new high school friend Vincent (Kit Harington), she enters this nightmare realm, comprising wheezy horror hangouts like an asylum, an amusement park, an abattoir and a surgery room, all abounding with dank, dusty detritus. And she encounters malevolent entities (a pyramid-headed executioner, harpylike nurses, a creature cobbled from mannequin limbs) that manifest a mild modicum of invention. She also briefly interacts with, yes, actors, many of whom (Deborah Kara Unger, Malcolm McDowell, Carrie-Anne Moss) deserve much, much better.

The film is nothing if not liberal with its bloodletting, which integrates cleverly at times with the 3-D: lopped fingers, for example, fly toward the audience. But personalities and plot are thumbnail sketches at best. Silent Hill gamers have goals to reach for; Silent Hill: Revelation 3D viewers receive little to sustain them.

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