For me, there are two seminal video game horror franchises: Resident Evil and Silent Hill. Both came out for the original PlayStation, and they each had a niche. Resident Evil was the haunted house story, and Silent Hill was the psychological horror. When it comes to their film adaptations, Resident Evil has veered wildly away from the original games, and also become a huge franchise. Meanwhile, Silent Hill was adapted in 2006, but it failed to leave an impression. This month, Director Michael J. Bassett (Solomon Kane) will try to bring the franchise back to life with Silent Hill: Revelation 3D. The film had a panel at this year’s New York Comic-Con with Bassett, producer Samuel Hadida (who also produced the first film), and stars Adelaide Clemens and Kit Harington.
Hit the jump for my recap of the panel for Silent Hill: Revelation 3D.
For those unfamiliar with the movie, here’s the official synopsis:
Based on the groundbreaking video game franchise, SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D is the sequel to the hit film SILENT HILL. In SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D, Heather Mason (Clemens) and her father (Bean) have been on the run, always one step ahead of dangerous forces that she doesn’t fully understand. On the eve of her 18th birthday, plagued by horrific nightmares and the disappearance of her father, Heather discovers she’s not who she thinks she is. The revelation leads her deeper into a demonic world that threatens to trap her forever.
After the moderator introduces Bassett, Hadida, Clemens, and Harington on stage, we’re shown the trailer:
After the trailer, Hadida tells the audience, tongue-in-cheek they had to wait six years for a new movie so that the protagonist would be 18. It’s a bit confusing since the official synopsis says Clemens’ character is Heather, but her real name is Sharon because it’s the little girl from the first movie. [I haven't seen the first film, and after seeing the panel, I still don't know how lost I'll be if I see the sequel]
Bassett says he got involved because he was a fan of the games and the previous film. Bassett adds that he has added elements from the video game Silent Hill 3, but he doesn’t want to be slavishly faithful since games and movies are different modes of storytelling. He feels that Silent Hill 3 and probably Silent Hill 2 are the best of the series, but he also wanted to make a sequel to the original movie, and then draw in people who weren’t familiar with either games or the first film. That’s an incredibly tricky balancing act, and I’m curious to see if he pulled it off.
Harington talks a bit about playing Vincent. He says he can’t tell us a lot about his character because he doesn’t want to spoil anything. The character is from Silent Hill 3, but there are some changes. Bassett says it’s best to look at the Vincent in the movie as sharing the DNA as the Vincent from the game, but if you’re looking for a direct adaptation, “you’re either going to be surprised or disappointed.”
Talking about doing the movie in 3D, Bassett says he was reluctant at first. But they shot it in 3D, and it wasn’t post-converted, so they could control the 3D on the set. “It allows you to step into the world. And yes, we do have stuff come at you, and yes we have fun with it,” but he felt Heather’s journey is about becoming immersed in Silent Hill. He finishes up by saying that if you’re not seeing the movie in 3D, then you’re not really seeing the movie they shot because the editing and sound design were also done with 3D in mind. Harington and Clemens add that as actors, they have to be slightly more aware of the 3D, but it’s not a huge difference from a performance standpoint.
Then we get to see a making-of featurette in 3D. It’s a good way to show off a bunch of clips without having to simply make us sit through each clip piecemeal. Like all making-of featurettes, the talking heads are happy about the movie they’re making, but the featurette also shows off a variety of the monsters. I also learned that Carrie-Anne Moss and Malcolm McDowell are in the movie. So it was a revelation. In 3D.
After the featurette, Bassett talked about using practical effects like having an actor play the monster Red Pyramid (it’s the same actor who played the character in the first movie) instead of going CGI. Bassett says the Silent Hill monsters are supposed to be “hideous and beautiful” and about “the corruption of flesh.” Harington says that there are some strong CGI effect in the movie, but there are also some visceral thrills as well.
Bassett says “survival horror” really happened with the first Silent Hill video game. A large part of its effect was the sound design, and while he acknowledges the argument that Silent Hill 2 is the best, he thinks Silent Hill 3 has the best story. He also says that when they went into making the movie, they got the Silent Hill “bible” from Konami (the makers of the video game), and so they tried to throw in a bunch of Easter eggs.
Bassett says if he was going to keep playing in the Silent Hill universe, he would like to do stories outside of the games, for example the graphic novel that showed the origin of the town. But mostly, he wants to make his own stories set in the world.
Clemens said she screamed before every take, and Bassett says they should have an extra on the DVD where they cobble together all her screams. Then Bassett says she should do a scream on stage, the audience goads her into it, and she obliges us with a nice big scream. It’s not bad.
Bassett gets on the bad side of the audience a bit by saying “Pyramid Head” sounds worse than “Red Pyramid” even though “Pyramid Head” is how the character is known to the fans despite never being named in the games.
We finish up with a clip of Sharon/Heather being chased through a storeroom by the “mannequin spider”, which is an arachnid-like creature that is fitted with mannequin heads and other body parts. It was a reminder that horror clips don’t really work because horror is all about building tension, and without context and pacing, the scene is rendered ineffective. Hopefully, it will work better when seen with the rest of the movie.
Silent Hill: Revelation 3D opens October 26th.