Monday, February 18, 2013

Confused About Silent Hill: Revelation

by K. Jerry Peterson

When adapting the first Silent Hill game into a movie, some key changes were made to the source material. Most of those changes were cosmetic, such as recasting Harry Mason as Rose Da Silva. Howeverk when it came to handling the Order of Valtiel, the motivations of the cult were radically altered from the game. If Silent Hill were to be a single, stand-alone movie, these changes wouldn’t affect any future stories. The movie as-is works. However, this past weekend saw its sequel hit store shelves. Silent Hill: Revelation is a confused movie, trying to navigate its way between the conflicting motives of the cult as seen in the video games and the first movie.

In the games, the Order wants to keep Alessa alive, but in a suffering state. The spirit of their dark god, Valtiel, incubates within her, feeding off of her hatred and pain. Valtiel’s powers manifest through Alessa as seen whenever the town is transformed into a nightmare world. The Order encourages these displays of dark power and even command the surreal monsters of Silent Hill at times. Their ultimate goal is to rejoin the two halves of Alessa’s soul, so they can restore the full power of their dark god. The other half of Alessa’s soul is in the young child, Cheryl Mason.

The Order as seen in the first movie is a cult of witch hunters. They fear Alessa and her dark powers. They are not in command of the monsters that Alessa creates. They seek refuge from the darkness in a church and pray for the light to deliver them from evil. They speak of purification and fighting demons. It’s clear that they are trapped in a purgatory of their own making, and want to kill Alessa to free themselves from torment. As with the games, Alessa has split her soul in half and put her last shred of innocense into a child named Sharon Da Silva. The Order figures that if they can kill Sharon, they’ll be able to weaken Alessa and destroy her too.

Cult leader, Christabella, prays before a mural of a witch burning.

All well and good until we try to understand what's going on in Silent Hill: Revelation. This movie adapts the story of the third game, but runs into some problems due to the differing portrayals of the cult. The confusion comes about in the movie, when it’s revealed that the Order is also trying to resurrect Valtiel. This is a huge departure from the cult of the first movie that was devoted to fighting demons. Several members wear protection to prevent being corrupted by the darkness, but then work to restore their dark god to power? They hate the demons, but their altar is a giant statue of Valtiel? They fight the monsters but employ them too? What the hell??

New cult leader, Claudia, redecorates the church with a giant demon statue.

The confusion is all because Revelation is trying to create an amalgamation of the cult seen in the games and the cult seen in the first movie. If Revelation stuck with the original reasoning of killing Sharon and Alessa to free themselves from purgatory, it would've made more sense and the plot would still be the same. At the very least, Claudia's group could have been established as a splinter group of extremists, that had turned their back on The Order and chosen to worship the demons. But no such distinction is ever made.

Instead we're left with a half-decent movie with a mess of a plot. There's plenty good about Revelation, up until about halfway through. Then the plot starts to trip over itself and unravel. By the end, I was left scratching my head and trying to make sense of the numerous inconsistencies.

- Jerry Peterson
I still enjoyed seeing Pyramid Head act as Heather's protector though.

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