The sequel “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D” was released this weekend that followed the 2006’s Christophe Gans-directed “Silent Hill” that introduced the audiences to a dark, nightmarish world of the video game.
In the sequel, the protagonist Heather Mason transport herself into the Silent Hill nightmarish world after her father goes missing.
Latino-Review had an exclusive phone interview with director Michael J. Bassett earlier in the week to discuss the difficulties on adapting the sequel for different audiences, 3D filming and the video game itself.
Here’s the full transcript below:
Latino-Review: Hi, Michael. How’s it going?
Michael Bassett: Good. How are you doing? Latino-Review is one of my favorite web sites. You break some good stories.
Latino-Review: We try to keep up. So what attracted you to this project?
Michael Bassett: I’m a gamer from way back. I got excited for a game called Wolfenstein when it first came out. And that was the most exciting computer sophisticated graphics game on the PC. I go way, way back towards computer games.
I remember going through Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake. And then my friend started playing this game called Silent Hill, because they were console gamers. I’m a PC gamer. So I was watching this game and said, “Holy shit! This is amazing. It’s terrifying.”
So what attracted me to it was my history with Silent Hill was that I’m a gamer fan. So playing the games and seeing it developed the sophistication in the story; the atmosphere; the monsters are cool; and the sounds were amazing. It was a package of gaming and artistry that anyone did well at that point.
I was excited when the first movie came out. I liked that movie a lot. I knew the producer, Samuel Hadida, because we made a movie called “Solomon Kane” together. After Kane was finished, we went our separate ways.
And then I remember having dinner with Samuel years later and him saying, “Yeah, I want to do another ‘Silent Hill’ movie.”
I asked, “Is Christophe Gans going to do it?”
“No, no. I don’t think Christophe is going to do it.”
So I said, “I would love to do that. If you’re looking for a writer or director—I would love to do it.”
We talked about what the story could be and he liked my idea. And we developed it. It was a great privileged to play in that world and obviously it was a huge challenge to do justice to a game of our time.
Latino-Review: I remembered you said before that “Silent Hill” was based on a specific video game. You could spend a little bit of time talking about that? And why did you choose the protagonist as Heather Mason?
Michael Bassett: One of the things that Sammy wanted was for this movie to be an adaptation sequel for the first movie. It’s a story of this little girl on which we all knew who she is and her history. So in [Silent Hill] 3, Heather Mason is the protagonist. We made it to be the basis for our movie story. The right amount of time had passed in the real world when the movie came out. Now little Sharon Da Silva has grown up and living in the world of Heather Mason, and she doesn’t know who she really is or what is her history.
Throughout this movie, everything will be revealed to her. The story of this movie is about a girl who had to rescue her dad, but at the same time she will discover on who she really is by going back to Silent Hill of this place of nightmares.
The story of game three really lent itself very nicely. I try to keep the story as much as characters as I could while working the story as a movie story telling rather than a game adaptation.
And that was kind of a challenge to work the story for three different audiences: people who wanted a proper sequel to the first movie; people who are huge fans of the game and wanted a game adaptation of game number three; and also, most importantly, people who don’t anything about “Silent Hill” just to see a really great horror movie.
Silent Hill is such a great environment—I want to introduce as many new people as possible to this world. And to make a movie that just would scare the pants off of you. It will be atmospheric, twisted and unusual with a lot of cool monsters. We have the challenges and hopefully it achieves some of them.
Latino-Review: Could you explain why this movie is in 3D and why it was filmed with the 3D Epic cameras?
Michael Bassett: We talked about it how everything should appear in the movie and how things were going to be developed from the visual style from the first movie. Christophe did a fantastic job in the first movie of bringing in the atmosphere.
And Sammy said he wanted 3D. I admitted that I was really reluctant. I wasn’t really a big fan of it. I don’t think it was used terribly well in live-action movies. Live-action 3D has always been a horrible post-production process. And those movies don’t use the 3D very well.
So I decided to shoot the movie in 3D with 3D cameras on the set. I try to do things, not completely unique, but use it in a way benefits the atmosphere of the movie. It immerses the audience in a way that depicts the horror movie to these dark corners and great atmosphere.
And being on the set with 3D cameras—we shot the movie with Red Epic. It’s a very difficult camera to use. The difficulty with 3D back then was that the cameras were big and you were shooting with two cameras strapped together. They weigh a lot.
But we had to find a new language of film making. The 3D shots look good on screen. The editing process is slightly different and even with the sound design is slightly different. I still chose the movie to be in the 3D. You can still see it in 2D if you don’t like 3D for whatever reason, but you’re not watching the movie in the way I intended. It was a difficult choice to make, but the movie benefits from it.
I’m still not a huge fan of 3D for specific reasons. But, in the right context in the right movie, it really makes the difference. I think Silent Hill benefits from it.
Latino-Review: For the non-video game audiences, how will they accept this film if they’re not familiar with the video games or the previous movie?
Michael J. Bassett: This goes back to one of my earlier answers, because the difficulty for me was writing this script for the audiences who don’t know anything about Silent Hill. You don’t have to see anything in the first movie, because we explain the back story of this girl. You don’t need to know her history, because it’s built into this movie as well. It is all explained. By the time you get to the end of the movie, you’ll understand what exactly happened to her.
If you’re a gamer looking for a true adaptation of the game—it would be interesting for you cause it’s not a pure adaptation. I used the story and made some little changes to it. It’ll go in a direction that you won’t be expecting. So it will be a new experience for you as well.
And if you’re a fan of the first movie, it’s a proper sequel adaptation. It’s really, really hard to please those three different audiences.
But, the one that I have to be careful of is those who have no knowledge. You can still go to this movie and appreciate a freaky, scary horror movie. Silent Hill world is a different kind of horror. These days, you have those “Paranormal Activity” or “Sinister” in our world somewhere.
Silent Hill is a full-on fantasy universe. This is a world with our heroine Heather Mason, played by Adalaide Clemons, a fantastic Australian actress. She takes this from her world of school and living in this crappy part of town. She heads to Silent Hill by moving from our world to a place ashes are constantly falling and there darkness in the world. It is the perfect nightmare scenario. And not many movies do that these days. It’s a different kind of horror movie than what is normally out there.
Latino-Review: How much research did you have and how much did you let the cast members play the video game?
Michael J. Bassett: I was really immersed in the Silent Hill world already. And so were the producers. We hold the Silent Hill mythology.
Adelaide and Kit [Harington] were aware of the games. Adelaide’s brothers played the games a lot. And Kit was a bit of a gamer. What was really important for me is that they came into the movie with a proper performance of character.
We had the game available for them to play. But, I didn’t want them to get locked into the motion of being a human version of a bunch of pixels. I needed them to interpret the script in a human performance way. And with Adelaide, I try to protect her from the game as much as possible. So she wasn’t locked into certain choices. I made the choices for her on whether we should more like the game here or more realistic and human [in the movie].
In all, Adelaide did a great job and added a certain human element for the movie. And it’s really important in making a live movie.
Latino-Review: Thank you very and good luck with your movie.
Michael J. Bassett: Thanks. Cheers.