The overlooked upside to unconventional horror sequels like Halloween 3—series entries that throw away everything that came before them, and embark on bold new paths—is that they aren’t beholden to the kind of convoluted mythology that can bog down horror franchises. As a sequel to an adaptation of a videogame, the muddled new horror sequel Silent Hill: Revelation 3-D is burdened with having to laboriously unpack so much conflicting information about the haunted town and child-demon at the center of its faltering, humorless narrative that a more honest title would be Silent Hill: Exposition.
Newcomer Adelaide Clemens, a dead ringer for Michelle Williams, right down to her permanent frown and haunted air, stars as a glum teenager whose adopted father, world-weary Silent Hill survivor Sean Bean, has been shuttling her from town to town for enigmatic reasons. Ominous visions of grotesque demons seem to follow Clemens every where she goes, all pointing the way to the eponymous town, a horrific realm dominated by a strange cult. When Bean goes missing, Clemens travels to Silent Hill with classmate Kit Harington, who has a tortured, mysterious past of his own.
Silent Hill’s cast is haunted by the still-living, paycheck-hungry ghosts of character actors past: Hal Hartley repertory player Martin Donovan briefly livens up the proceedings as a fedora-sporting detective, but like supporting characters played by the overqualified likes of Malcolm McDowell and Deborah Kara Unger, he’s on hand solely to deliver a relevant bit of information. In videogame terms, their only purpose is to help a protagonist defeat an immediate threat and advance to the next level. Writer-director Michael Bassett gives the film a dull grey-white palette and a dour, relentlessly morose tone that ensures the film is neither scary nor fun. Stiff, episodic, and disjointed, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D replicates its source material all too faithfully. It confirms once again that with the notable exception of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, a film that feels like a videogame is never a positive development.