All horror movies are somebody's vision of Hell, but few are set in as convincing a version as the "Silent Hill" films.
It's a ghost town where an underground coal mine fire keeps the ash falling like carcinogenic snow.
All the abandoned cars are AMC Pacers and Chevrolet Chevettes and El Caminos.
It's in West Virginia. The faceless demons, executioners, the newly butchered victims and the waiting-to-be-butchered? They're bonuses.
The movies about this satanic slaughterhouse are where once great -or at least promising actors - go to collect a check.
Radha Mitchell once starred in a Woody Allen picture. But since the first "Silent Hill," well...
Sean Bean's been condemned to this cinema purgatory as well. And with "Silent Hill: Revelation," Malcolm McDowell and Carrie-Anne Moss join the damned. Deborah Kara Unger doesn't escape this hell, either.
The new "Hill" is more or less as striking as the earlier ones. There's a godawful script filled with references to "The Order" and "The Brethren," who may have the other half of "The Seal" which they may keep in "The Sanctuary." Or was it "The Asylum"?
I can't imagine diving into this grim and gruesome franchise without having at least a hint of the back story. Then again, seeing the earlier ones isn't that much help
Writer-director Michael J. Bassett, who got the much-delayed flop "Solomon Kane" into theaters earlier this fall, serves up tasty dialogue exchanges like this one, between two cops who discover a body and a bloody woman's coat.
First cop: "Found a jacket. His blood's on it."
Second cop: "Let's get that to forensics. See whose blood is on it."
Second cop's not listening to first cop. And director's not checking behind the screenwriter. Because he's the same fellow.
Mitchell appears in flashbacks, helping her husband (Bean) and daughter (now played by Adelaide Clemens) escape West Virginia.
Daughter Heather, who used to go by Sharon and assorted other names, is on the move. Dad takes them from city to city, dodging the beasts without faces. But they always catch up.
This time, a private eye (Martin Donovan) has sped up the process. Heather has barely had time to lecture her new high school classmates ("I won't IM you or Facebook-friend you or Tweet you") when the monsters of her waking visions and sleeping nightmares show up.
She knows she must return to Silent Hill. Even though Mom always warned her, "Don't go to Silent Hill."
Dad's been kidnapped. Forgetting her rule about being standoffish and not trusting anybody, she convinces a classmate (Kit Harington) to take her there.
Our leading lady decided to play this girl as somebody who has seen it all, but still can manage the odd shriek of fear. She's not convincing. With a name like "Adelaide," you know the fetching Ms. Clemens is Australian. Perhaps that explains the Canadian accent she trips into here. Bean takes a couple of shots at a Southern drawl, but realizes "Second sequel? Screw it."
Best line? The teens talk Silent Hill history and one reveals to the other that it was built on - guess what?
"Everybody knows, NEVER build on an ancient Indian burial ground!"
Indeed. Everybody does.
Bassett's vision of Hell here isn't appreciably different from the one he served up in "Solomon Kane." Yes, he has an eye. No, he has no ear. But a few more movies like these two, a fellow could get pigeon-holed.
Put this much effort into bringing your idea of Hell to the screen, film fans will start calling you Satan. And not in a good way.
SILENT HILL: REVELATION
Cast: Adelaide Clemens, Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Carrie-Anne Moss
Written and directed by Michael J. Bassett. An Open Road release.
Running time: 1:33
MPAA Rating: R for violence and disturbing images, some language and brief nudity