Silent Hill Revelation 3D (2012): by Michael Smith

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I missed the 3D version of this film when it came out at the cinema. Which is a shame, as I think it would have looked even better than the 2D that I had to download via iTunes. Despite the lack of the 3D it was a surprisingly good sequel.

Written and directed by Michael J Bassett (he helmed the superb films Deathwatch and Wilderness) Silent Hill Revelation follows in the footsteps of the first Silent Hill film.

In this film, we get to see Heather and her father Harry as they come to another “new town” and new school for Heather. They’ve been on the run since the first film. Mum Rose is trapped in the netherworld of Silent Hill and we are treated to a flashback where Harry promises Rose that he’ll protect their daughter.

On Heather’s first day of school, everything goes disastrously wrong and she loses her dad, her helper, and her independence as she goes to Silent Hill to save her father.

The film has been blessed with a brilliant cast:

Adelaide Clemens
Kit Harington
Carrie-Anne Moss
Sean Bean
Radha Mitchell
Malcolm McDowell

Unfortunately all the “headliners” as it were are restricted to cameo roles, including Sean Bean who, with Carrie-Anne Moss) spend a bit more time on camera than Radha Mitchell and Malcom McDowell. *On a side note here – It was wonderful to see Ms Moss again, although admittedly I didn’t recognise her at first; starting at the screen and thinking who is that, she looks so familiar…)

Just like the first film, this edition of Silent Hill appears to have mixed several different iterations of the games together to flesh out the story. Although arguably they have really included some of the basic “sets” from each of the first three games. The fairground has been a feature of Silent Hill since the first game.

Where did this come from??
Where did this come from??

Although a tiny dream segment is spent on the “spitting” monsters (so tiny in fact it amounts to about a nano second) from the verse, more time is spent on the nurses and good old Pyramid Head (who appears to be twins in this film) with his giant killing tools and who some what amazingly appears as a Saviour at a couple of points in the film?!

Still, random character twists aside, the place looks like Silent Hill and sounds like Silent Hill. The melancholy music is present throughout (and I will unabashedly state that I love that piano riff) and the villains look like they could have stepped out of the video game. So overall, I did enjoy the film.

But.

I did have some problems with it.

Was it just me or did Adelaide Clemens look an awful lot like Arielle Kebbel? Although in one of the flashback scenes where she had brown hair, she looked more like a younger Maggie Gyllenhaal; and Kit Harington looked like David Boreanaz Junior with long hair. The fact that these two actors made me think of other people disturbed me a bit. Although nothing Clemens did convinced me that she could ever scream as good as Kebbel.

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I also don’t understand the use of Malcom McDowell. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the man. I just don’t see the reasoning behind using him in this film. Are they alluding to his recent Horror Film link in Halloween? Is this a nudge and a wink to his appearance in other horror films? I don’t know and it’s puzzling.

I was also disappointed to see that Radha Mitchell’s Rose had no more than a few seconds screen time. Not just because I adore this woman, but because I was hoping that she was going to explain how “Heather” got out of the predicament that both of them were in at the end of the previous film. Apart from the medallion device that is mentioned by Harry,Vincent and ever so briefly by Grandpa Leonard it is never satisfactorily explained. So points off for that little omission.

I do know that there will be a core of Silent Hill game fans who will detest the film just as much as they detested the first film. To them I say, plug your Silent Hill 2 in the old Playstation and enjoy that experience and stop waiting for films that are going to recreate the magic and the uniqueness that is the “old” Silent Hill verse.

Okay?

But apart from the very few things that put me off (not many really) I’d say that this gets a 4 out of 5 scary Silent Hill bunnies. Just because I’m a Silent Hill fan (of the game verse) and the fact that I love the use of the music; I’ll not take off too much for the lack of Radha Mitchell.

Scary Silent Hill Bunny!
Scary Silent Hill Bunny!

Deathwatch (2002): Evil in the Mud

Written and Directed by Michael J. Bassett  Deathwatch was Bassett’s first time at bat as a director. All in all not a bad start as either a writer or director. The film looks good, it sounds good and Bassett benefited from having a very talented cast to work with.

Set in 1917 during World War I, Deathwatch follows a small bunch of survivors from Company Y. The majority of the company have been wiped out by a machine gun nest. Sgt Tate (Hugo Speer) gets caught in German barbed wire and the youngest member of the company, Pvt Charlie Shakespeare (Jamie Bell) is too terrified to help him get free. Morning comes and the men attempt to move forward. They suddenly  find themselves in a fog or mist. Thinking that this is a gas attack the men don their gas-masks and attempt to carry on.

After the fog clears the men find they are right on top of a German Trench. There seem to be very few German soldiers so the men decide to capture the trench and hold it for British forces. They shoot a few soldiers, who appear to be shooting at something further down the trench. They kill one, lose another and capture  the remaining soldier for interrogation.  As they spread out in the trenches they find a large amount of dead German soldiers. A lot of them seem to be caught up in their own barb wire.

Things are decidedly weird in this trench. As they go about destroying portions of the trench in order to make it easier to defend, they start hearing noises. They also start acting strangely and are apparently hallucinating. They decide finally to question the captured soldier.  Using French, Shakespeare translates what the German soldier is saying, the trench is evil and they must all leave it or die. Pvt Quinn (Andy Serkis) knocks the German out and wants to kill him. He is denied this and generally wigs out, although Quinn doesn’t seem too tightly wound to begin with.

And just when you thought things could not possibly get worse, they can and do go down hill rapidly.

Bassett choosing  World War I as a backdrop was a stroke of genius. The First World War centred on trench warfare. Thousands of lives from both sides were lost as they attempted to storm the enemies trenches. Usually fortified with heavy machine guns and cannon, they were practically impregnable. As most of the action took place on the ground, (air attacks were limited to the use of steel darts dropped on the trenches, dropping crude bombs and dropping mustard gas)  casualties on both sides was high. The British in particular suffered huge losses due to the lack of experience of their class driven commanding officers and because the people who were making the decisions were miles from the action.

The general mood of the film is dark. It seems to be constantly raining in the film with the end result of everything happening in mud. The Company survivors have no contact with their command except on a captured radio that ceases to work after they receive  only one transmission from command stating that no support is coming for them.Bassett manages to mix the atmosphere of the war with  supernatural evil. The evil oozes slowly in the trenches at first but the longer the soldiers stay there, it’s presence and influence begins to pick up speed,

The film was not received very well when it was released in 2002, but that seems to be mainly because a lot of the props and images used did not fit the time period. Apart from the obvious mistakes, it is still an impressive film and I would recommend it to anyone.

Wilderness (2006): Who Let The Dogs Out

 

 

Cover of "Wilderness"
Cover of Wilderness

Directed by Michael J. Bassett (Deathwatch , Solomon Kane) Wilderness is only the second feature film helmed by Bassett. He has stepped up his game with this film. Made for a budget of three million, the film did not make back it’s production cost and only pulled in  just over twenty-four thousand pounds. Which is a shame, because it really is quite a good film.

Wilderness opens in a Juvenile Detention Centre aka Prison.Sean Pertwee is  prison officer  Jed, who is in charge of the young criminals. This disparate group of six lads do not get on well together. Steve (Stephen Wight) is the self proclaimed leader of the boys, his right hand man and enforcer is the hulking but simple Lewis (Luke Neal). Steve makes life miserable for Lindsey (Ben McKay) and Dave (John Travers). Steve especially likes humiliating Dave. A new arrival, Callum (Toby Kebbell) is a tough customer, who is more interested in keeping a low profile, than in challenging Steve for the position of leader.

Steve and Lewis’s campaign of hate against Dave intensifies. Dave cannot  face the abuse any more, and kills himself. Callum makes the discovery when he slips in a pool of blood and traces it back to Dave’s bed. The alarm is raised and Jed deals with the body. The prison Governor comes in to talk to the boys. He is furious that this has happened. He tells Jed to take the lads to the Island and to work them hard.

The island is uninhabited and shared with other prisons who have to book time there. There should only be one group on the island at a time.When Jed and his charges arrive on the island, they begin to set up camp. These are all city lads and they are very uncomfortable camping in the woods. Every noise serves to make the boys nervous and jumpy. They get their campsite  set up and spend their first night uneasy and restless.

In the morning Callum goes down to a river to get the camp water. On his way back he notices what looks like an animal skull stuck on a stick. After examining it he turns to go and is bashed on the head. He falls to the ground unconscious. Jed gets tired of waiting for Callum to return so he gets the lads together to search for him. They find Callum and Jed decides that he must have tripped and fallen. The inmates spend the rest of the day participating in team building activities. Returning to their camp site, they encounter another camp site. As they are supposed to have the island to them selves they decide to investigate.

While Jed is looking into a tent Louise (Alex Reid) shows up and asks Jed what he thinks he is doing. It turns out that the island has been double booked and now has juvenile delinquents from both sexes camping out.  After a short discussion, Jed and Louise decide to share the island. Jed and his six lads are to stay on the east side of the river and Louise and her two charges are to stay on the west. Once Jed and the lads return to the camp, he sends them out orienteering.

Steve and Lewis find yet another person on the supposedly unhabited island, a hermit. They begin to beat the old man up. Later Callum goes to the same place and finds the hermit with his throat ripped out. While Callum is checking to see if the man is alive, Louise’s two girls see him and go back to tell Louise. Callum goes to a stream to wash his bloody hands. Jed and Louise take Callum down and handcuff him, thinking that he has killed the hermit.

The two groups decide to band together and leave the island the next day to contact the authorities. In the morning Jethro goes to collect water for the two groups.When Jethro doesn’t come back Jed sends Blue and Lindsay down to find him. When they get there they discover that Jethro has been killed and hung from a tree. They rush back to the camp and tell everyone about Jethro.

Jed immediately starts trying to get everyone organised when he is struck in the chest with a crossbow bolt. He is shot twice more as he slumps down against a tree. While Louise and Callum try to help Jed, attack dogs are running through the woods to the camp. Callum and Louise get away but not poor Jed the dogs savage him to death.  In the mad scramble to get away from the dogs, Louise goes missing.

The remaining campers now have to keep away from the killer dogs and the mystery person who is shooting the crossbow. They must fight to stay alive and get off the island.

Wilderness boasts a splendid cast. Sean Pertwee, dying as usual in the second reel; Alex Reed, no stranger to horror films (The descent) and Toby Kebbell in a role completely different than the character he played just previously in Dead Man’s Shoes. In fact the casting for the film was brilliant. The youngsters playing the prison inmates sounded exactly how they should. They all seem to have come from London and talked in the ‘gangster’ style that juvenile delinquents favour. The cinematography is crisp and makes the most of the location. The plot is nothing spectacular, but it kept me guessing until the last minute as to who was killing everyone.

I was impressed with Bassett’s second visit to the horror genre. I would recommend this film highly, if for no other reason than to see the excellent performances from the actors. Not to mention the chance to hear what English teen criminals sound like, because they really do talk that way. I know.