Interview: Silent Hill Revelation Wr/Dir Michael J. Bassett Dishes On Film – "Could Be Even More Demented"
Sequel horror film, Silent Hill Revelation 3D opens this weekend after a 6 year wait. Fans of the first film are finally going to see the next chapter in the Silent Hill story originally based on a 1999 Konami video game. The first film opened back in 2006 to decent critical acclaim and a big box office pay-off of more than $100 million, scoring the #1 position opening week.
Silent Hill Revelation has screened in no official places, so there is no “official” reviews to see before the film comes out, but I have seen selected footage of the film at Comic Con International this past summer. Reactions from the 6500 person crowd in the famous Hall H included people cringing back into their seats, covering their eyes, and a lot of gasping, oohhhh and aweeeing, – all considered positive for a horror film. The Comic Con crowd is known for being a good indicator of a film’s success. My overall impression of the ten minute 2D reel was overtly positive. The creatures, special effects, and what story line I couldÂ surmiseÂ was enough to win me over to at least go see it in the theater in 3D.
Even though it’s been more than 3 months since I saw the Comic-Con footage, I was still intrigued enough that when the opportunity to speak with the writer/director of the film, Michael J. Bassett came up I jumped on it. It’s interesting because anyone trying to walk into a project of this nature as a writer or a director would have some really hard parameters placed upon them. They would be writing from a story that has already been done in a game with legions of fans, a film that ran with it’s version of the game-story which sets up even more confines; and then there’s also the comic books, and graphic novels, as well as game sequels. Thinking it’s easier to write something that’s already been partially realized is actually a lot harder than dreaming up something new. You have rules placed upon you as a creator that you wouldn’t have in your own self created project. I spoke with Michael J. Basset about this challenge:
Allie Hanley:At the end of the first film we had the father played by Sean Bean (Game of Thrones) alone in the real world, and the Mom/Rose with the demon spawn that looked like the little girl in the dream world. As the writer and the director how hard was it to reconcile the first film, the video games, and what you wanted to do?
Michael J. Bassett: I’m not going to tell you how and where I start the story because that would give to much away, but you are right as the first movie ends in a particular way and I have to make a sequel – and thanks to the previous writers I’ve been written into sort of a corner. I had to do some problem solving issue of how to to get it all to work again. It was a fun challenge in a way. I met with the producer of the first movie and he told me that he wanted me to do a sequel. I looked at the first movie and thought the film making was terrific and the artistry was amazing; the story telling was pretty good, so I was thinking how on earth was I going to write a sequel as well as an adaptation of all 3 games; but more importantly, make a movie that will make sense to those who haven’t seen the movie previously?
AH:That’s a really tall order, tell me more about the challenge.
MJB: It was the most important thing <the story making sense to newbies>. Allie, I can tell you know the first movie very well. And when you watch this film you will go, OK, -ya I get it, that makes sense. The story telling explains that stuff but doesn’t dwell on it, and then it goes on to the next story.
AH:Right on, so it satisfies the old film and then moves forward with a new story. I watched ten minutes of the film at Comic Con Intl this past summer and I gotta tell you some of those scenes were spectacularly creative but also bent and demented. Go back to when you were writing this film and tell me what your process is, or how you get to a place where you can write these sorts of visually terror filled scenes.
MJB: I don’t think they’re that… I know this sounds weird – but I don’t think they’re that demented. I could go so much further. I could make it so much more… ya know… I pulled back so that I don’t go to places where the censors are not going to let me show. Since you were there and part of the Comic Con crowd, and thought the film was demented can you imagine what mainstream audiences are going to think?
AH: I’ve seen and enjoyed my fair share of horror films andÂ psychologicalÂ thrillers, and what I saw at Comic Con both impressed and freaked me out at the same time. Probably a good combination for a horror film.
MJB: That’s great! Â I think a movie audience should be taken somewhere interesting and to a place that is provocative, new, and extreme. What’s the point of going to see a movie if you are just going to see the same thing that you see everyday of your life.
AH:So where do you take yourself to when you write this type of film?
MJB: It comes completely natural to me. I don’t have to go to a place. This is what I like to write. I’m a very middle class, repressed English guy, so usually all my demons come out on screen; And I wouldn’t say it’s any differentÂ head-space from my normalÂ head-space. Obviously, I just wanted to make a film the fans of Silent Hill would love.
AH: With respect to previous films that you have written and directed like Deathwatch, Solomon Kane, you seem to have a penchant for writing revenge stories with grand action scenes. This film obviously plays up to that with a bigger budget, and being shot in 3D; plus your guest directing on two episodes of David S. Goyer’s TV series, DaVinci’s Demons, what are you looking to do in the next three years?
MJB: I don’t really look at my previous movies in the terms of my career. Certainly each movie you become a better director than when you started. And if the audience likes it, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you made some good choices in picking what you get involved with along with all the other people who were involved. The only thing is that I want to keep working. I think that when you start making movies you don’t want any of them to choke. When I first got started I made a movie called Wilderness that didn’t do so well, but then I gotÂ to make Solomon Kane which was a big budget and a dark fantasy which I always wanted to write and make.
AH:Speaking of Solomon Kane, that’s a cool movie you made starring James Purefoy; How can American audiences see it outside of Amazon Prime at $5.99?
MJB: Well it’s playing in 15 theaters in the Â UK right now, and it’s available on Itunes. It’s been playing world wide just not in America which is really a shame for me.
AH:Well it’s a cool movie and we need more dark fantasy films like it, James Purefoy was awesome. Americans miss out on a lot of cool films simply because of the amount of money that is needed to promote them in this country vs. the amount of money that it will gross. There’s an audience out there for more fantasy films, especially ones set up like Solomon Kane. The success of TV Show, Games Of Thrones on HBO is proof of that, < which incidentally stars Kit Harrington who plays Vincent in Silent Hill Revelation and Jon Snow on GOT, andÂ Sean Bean, who reprises his role as the Vincent, for both Silent Hill films, and who played Eddard Stark on GOT Season 1 as well.> Â So what do you want to work on next?
MJB: Well Solomon Kane and Silent Hill were certainly adaptations of other people’s work. I have some original stuff I’d like to explore.Â Â Certainly they’re not all big things. I have a whole bunch of my own scripts I’d like to work on next. Some of them are small scale, psychological horror, and others are big scale science fictions, and I think the only thing that would happen is with the success of Silent Hill Revelation it will opens doors. So I want to be successful obviously for personal reasons but even more so because the audience is enjoying it. And that all plays to if the marketing works, and if the film is opening up against another movie like the Paranormal Activity audience, and if the market isn’t dried up by that point. You know what I mean, there’s a lot of different aspects to the success of a movie rather than the creative aspects of it.
I was really delighted to work on a TV show series called Strikeback; which was just enormous fun for me.
If anything, if I am not enjoying what I am doing, then I don’t want to do it. I have to enjoy the people I am working with, and I want to flex a whole lot of creative muscle. I want to make sci-fi movies, action movies, some thrillers.; I would probably never make a romantic comedy. Beyond that, there are all sorts of interesting movies out there that I love, and I want to make movies I love.
In SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D, Heather Mason (Adelaide Clemens) and her father (Sean Bean) have been on the run, always one step ahead of dangerous forces that she doesn’t fully understand.Â Â 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.Â Â The revelation leads her deeper into a demonic world that threatens to trap her forever.
RELEASE DATE: October 26, 2012
DIRECTOR/WRITER: Michael J. Bassett
STARRING: Sean Bean, Deborah Kara Unger, Radha Mitchell, Adelaide Clemens, Kit Harington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Malcolm Mcdowell
PRODUCED BY: Samuel Hadida, Don Carmody
RATING: R for violence and disturbing images, some language and brief nudity.
DISTRIBUTOR: Open Road Films
TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes
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