We Talk with the Stars of Silent Hill: Revelations
Silent Hill: Revelation 3D has a lot of work to do in order to get over the stigma of being a video game adaptation and a 3D movie. Fortunately it benefits from a Halloween release, a dedicated director and production team, and a talented cast, including heavy hitters like Sean Bean, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Malcolm McDowell. During New York Comic Con, I had the opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion with stars Adelaide Clemens and Kit Harington and one with director Michael J. Bennett and producer Samuel Hadida. In the interest of being short(er) and sweet, what follows is an abridged version of these two discussions.
On the video game:
Adelaide Clemens: It’s frightening. It’s really frightening, yeah. What they do with the voices and the sounds and the music is really, I think, exceptional. I don’t last long.
Kit Harington: I’m genuinely, genuinely terrified by those games. They don’t really sit well in a weird sort of way with me. They kind of freak me out. I’m better watching them than I am at playing them.
On doing a horror film:
KH: I love horrors. I do, I really do genuinely. They’ve got a place in my heart. I grew up loving films like The Shining and um, The Wicker Man’s the one that I always come back to with this film. It’s always sort of…I love The Wicker Man the film, and this film is sort of like it. It’s a weird little town where people are kind of hidden off. It’s a similar kind of vibe. I love horror movies and always wanted to tick that one off, to be involved in one. When I got offered this part, it was kind of a natural thing.
On the popularity of horror films:
AC: I was just thinking that when you were talking about that. Especially as a teenager, I found watching horror films, you’re reduced to your instincts and extreme emotions. I think it’s a great way to bond with friends. I see my 14-year-old brother Felix and his mates, they’re all very masculine, but you put a horror film on and they’re all holding each other. Yeah, I think it’s a wonderful way for people to experience film together, absolutely.
KH: Yeah, I think people love extreme emotions, whether it’s kind of laugh out loud or hide behind the seat. I think people love horror movies because they want to be terrified. I know I do. What was it? Paranormal Activity, the first one, shat myself. I loved it. I think the one that got me was the classic The Exorcist. I was way too young to see that.
AC: I’m still too young to see it.
KH: It’s wanting to be petrified, you know? It’s weird that humans want that, but in safety.
AC: I’m a shocker. I’m really not good with horror. I remember The Village, I was on the ground, in the seat in the ground .I didn’t even see the film. I was too petrified to sit on my seat! Um, so, yeah, I think that’s probably why I get plopped into the middle of these horror films, because they know that I’ll just scream and run like a crazy woman.
On green screen and monsters:
AC: We didn’t really do much work with green screens apart from a little bit at the end.
KH: I didn’t do any, yeah.
AC: We were so fortunate because we had men in suits as the monsters. We had practical monsters onset. We were saying yesterday as an actor it’s amazing. Not only do you have something to perform to but they can give a performance. The person playing the monster, you become friends with, so there’s a personality. Life is breathed into these characters. I think it makes all the difference in creating these films. As much as you can. I know it’s difficult. There was only one CGI monster. It was challenging actually trying to envision this mannequin monster when there’s just a red dot.
KH: Three days of my life that I don’t think I’ll ever experience again. I hope I won’t. At the same time, I’m sad I won’t. They were sexy, and yet they were disgusting. They were trying to kill me. Very, very strange three days. It creates a good scene. You come in and you’re strapped to this gurney, getting wheeled in, and there’s going to be lots of nurses with distorted faces.
AC: Wielding large weapons.
KH: It’s just bizarre.
AC: Gatsby was just completely, completely outrageous. Working with Baz Luhrmann was literally my all time dream come true. Romeo and Juliet, that film is just the epitome of the perfect film to me. That is my all time favorite film. It was just amazing. I was so privileged, and I couldn’t believe that I was really there. I played an extraordinary character called Catherine who’s the sister of Myrtle, who was played by Isla Fisher. [..] It was outrageous. I had a license to be very cheeky.
K: I’m filming [Game of] Thrones at the moment. We’re doing the third season. Got a bigger budget this year. It’s going to be like, someone said it best on set when they said the first season was high impact season, second season was more kind of storytelling, the third season’s going to be another high impact season. They’re really throwing it very caution to the wind this season. I think it’s going to be something special, I genuinely do. I’m enjoying it a huge amount, and my part of the story is kind of more eventful than it was last year.
On the Silent Hill games:
Michael J. Bassett: I’m a gamer of long standing. From before games were anything visually exciting. I remember playing Pong on my tv screen that my dad brought home when I was a kid. I played games prior to Silent Hill. The adventure horror games, the French made games, when it was just pixels floating around. That kind of freaky. I’m much more of a first-person shooter, so give me a keyboard and a mouse. But I remember when the first Silent Hill came out, and my friends were playing it as much as anything. That was the talk of the game world. What that game did and how it changed the perception of what a game could be. It was a real start to adventure horror…not even the genre, just the use of narrative, the use of design, sound design and visual design. It was a hugely important moment in the game world.
On balancing making a sequel and adapting a video game:
MJB: The key with this movie, Revelation, was really threefold, and Samuel and I had talked about that approach to it. We wanted to make a sequel obviously to the first movie because it was a sequel to a movie, and the plot that Christophe Gans left me with narratively joined the dots. And to continue her story. So there’s Sharon Da Silva, or Cheryl if you play the game, so they changed her name there, she has to become Heather Mason because game three really is the logical continuation of that story. And also the movie has to work for people who haven’t seen Silent Hill the movie or played the game, who don’t understand any of that historical mythology. We don’t recap at the beginning of the movie, you get plunged into this new story. You approach this story from three different levels. But absolutely, we’re adapting game three. That narrative is really strong all by itself. And when you start pulling apart the elements like well, I can use …the way I can make a human story of this girl searching for her father, which is beautifully a mirror reflection of the first movie, which is the parents looking for the girl. And how you can fold in the mythology of the Order, you can figure out why she goes back to Silent Hill, what the monsters represent to her in this new context, or who Sharon Da Silva really is.
On the minimal green screen:
MJB: Because shooting on green screen is not real, and it’s a pain in the ass to have to explain to people, the actors, there’s a big scary thing behind you we’re going to put in in six months’ time. To me, that’s not what the essence of horror is. […] With Silent Hill, for me, the monsters have to be present and real. Corruptions of the human form, so they’re relatively easy to achieve with prosthetics and makeup. I want to see that on set. I want to like that monster. I want to bring Adelaide Clemens in front of Pyramid Head or the brain monster with the dissected cranium or the butcher who’s cutting up some poor, hanging corpse. I want the reaction, and we’re not going to get that reaction saying this is a tennis ball, and it’s going to become scary sometime.
Samuel Hadida: The only monster we have in the movie that’s CG is a mannequin monster, so obviously what you do when Adeliade comes in is say, “The monster that is here is going to jump and do this and then it is. Look afraid,” you know? Yes, okay, but how is the monster going to look? I’m going to show you. This guy, he put his suit on and jumped from here to here to imitate the monster. She said, “Oh, I understand now!”
On the use of 3D:
MJB: It’s interesting when we sat down to talk about this, 3D was on the table from the beginning. I have to say that I was somewhat skeptical, a little bit reluctant. As a filmmaker, I don’t know what it’s going to allow me to do that I couldn’t have done with 2D. When we thought about it and when we talked about it, what 3D, particularly for Silent Hill, particularly for the emotion and immersing the audience in this alternate world, there are opportunities for great things with it. The catch was we had to shoot it in 3D. There was no post 3D at all. I think one of the reasons I was very reluctant was because I had probably just seen Clash of the Titans or one of these awful post 3D conversions, which makes the movie bad. They put you out of a movie. […] It kind of struck me that this was an opportunity for us to plunge deeper into this world. I can play with that dimension. It’s quite literally she goes into other dimensions. I can do that with the audience. I can put them in other dimensions too. I know there are a lot of naysayers of 3D right now, and to them I’d say that this movie was shot in 3D, it was framed for 3D, it was edited for 3D pacing. If you’re seeing it in 2D, you’re not seeing the movie.
SH: What is good is that when you play the game, I think that you have an extra-sensibility in the dark, playing that game, being that character, you feel immersion in the world of Silent Hill. Something strange, bizarre, a sound that can take you out there. With the 3D, what he has been able to do and what we were trying to achieve is bringing that world to you as an audience and give you the same feeling like you were playing the game if you’re a gamer. A 3D, you know, audience member, you feel you are going to go to a different place because you are going to feel the ashes and feel the fog in different dimension. In the darkness, when it comes to you, you feel like a delighted kid surrounded by the darkness and that feeling so you will understand their motivation and their feeling, their action. I think that it’s not just something coming at you. You have that, but more or less it is having this immersion into that world.