Shock sat down with Michael J. Bassett, the writer-director of Silent Hill: Revelation 3D at the San Diego Comic-Con today.
Bassett – who previously helmed Deathwatch, Wilderness and Solomon Kane – spoke with us about the challenges of filming in 3D, the new monster we’re going to see in the film, his preference for practical effects versus digital and the level of violence the story offers.
Silent Hill: Revelation 3D is slated for an October 26 release from Open Road Films.
Shock Till You Drop: Where does the film pick up in relation to the last one?
Michael J. Bassett: We are six years on in real time from the last film. And that’s pretty much the same amount of time that’s passed for the characters. What I’ve tried to do is make a sequel to the first movie. It continues Sharon Da Silva and Christopher Da Silva’s story. I explain how the ending of the first movie allows our story to continue. I’ve also tried to make a movie which is an adaptation of game number three. So, if the game is out there, they will know the story. They will know the things we are going to touch on in the underlying story. I’ve also tried to make a story that works on its own. So, if you haven’t played the game, it’s okay. It’s still just a rockin’ good horror film that does all the things you want a horror picture to do. Ultimately, it’s the story of Heather Mason, Adelaide Clemens’ character and her search for who she is and for her father.
Shock: Did the studio give you free reign to make the film that you wanted or did you deal with a lot of red tape?
Bassett: I worked with a French producer called Samuel Hadida. He did Brotherhood of the Wolf, True Romance, and the first Silent Hill. The thing about Sammy is that he’s a proper fan. He wants it to be as true to the games as possible. The world and the design are true to the game. The debate was always how violent and gory to make it. It’s an R-rated picture. We haven’t had it rated yet, but it’s definitely an R-rated picture. There’s no fight with the studio because there is no studio. At one point I asked him who needed to approve the footage and he told me “It’s me and you. If we like it, that’s okay.” It doesn’t mean that everyone else is going to like it, but we are fans and we made it for ourselves and other fans. That has been the greatest privilege. I have never done a big studio movie. I’ve never done something with so many cooks in the kitchen. I’ve just done a TV show. There are lots of people involved. It can become a bit of a pain in the ass to satisfy everyone, including you. But, this movie has been a pleasure.
Shock: The final cut is complete. Correct?
Bassett: The movie’s finished. It took us a long time in post because we shot it in 3D. All of the effects had to be rendered in 3D. We’re not a giant budget movie, so we had to get it right. We couldn’t afford to make mistakes. We had a really effects company that got everything right for us. We took a long time on the sound design because Silent Hill is as much about sound as it is about picture. So, the post has been a long time coming. We’ve secured a release date of Halloween of this year. We’ve kept it away from the fans for a while but we are about to start unleashing more and more.
Shock: How violent is the film?
Bassett: It’s not a violent movie in the way that Saw is a violent movie. It’s a graphic film. To me, the world of Silent Hill is a graphic world. If the psychology of the person who is creating their own silent hill is slightly broken then those images will be broken as well. There is some really cool gory stuff. There are prosthetic bits of flesh coming off. It’s great fun. It’s intense, but it’s not completely gory. I didn’t want to make a movie that was going to turn people off. It’s not a gore fest. It’s a psychological horror. That’s’ the best thing about it. It’s a psychological horror with this wonderful graphic wraparound and a good story in the middle of it.
Shock: I think that fans are going to love that.
Bassett: There’s not really any gore for the sake of gore. There is one image in the movie that you will probably freak out about but I left it in the movie because it’s very cool.
Shock: Can you give us an approximate breakdown of the practical versus digital effects?
Bassett: I can give you a very accurate breakdown. There’s only one digital monster. We couldn’t do it any other way. The creature is very cool. It’s the one we just showed at Comic-Con. It’s called the mannequin monster. It’s made up of mannequin body parts that come alive. It’s a big spidery creature with arms and legs all over the place. It was just too hard to deliver it practically, especially on the schedule we had. Everything else is real. There is a little bit of digital enhancement here and there. It’s people in costumes and makeup. I like that. When she goes in to Silent Hill there is fog and ash. The ash falling is digital. We weren’t able to do it any other way. This is a practical movie.
Shock: That’s exactly what fans want to see.
Bassett: The thing is that we are working with much more sophisticated chemicals. The latex and rubbers are able to look so much better on camera. So, occasionally you might see a crinkle in a costume or something like that, but you know, it’s okay to do that. You don’t have to polish everything out. It’s real.
Shock: Did shooting the film in 3D present any unique challenges?
Bassett: Shooting in 3D is all a unique challenge. It was a serious debate whether to shoot it in 3D or do post-conversion, but if you are going to go to the trouble of making it in 3D, do it properly. When I shot the movie a year or so ago, the technology is there, but the cameras are still very big. It’s two cameras right next to each other, like left eye, right eye. Steady cams cannot hold that big rig and handheld is really hard for an operator to do with the lenses right next to each other. They can get knocked out of balance very easily. So, some of the fun tools that I normally have as I filmmaker, I was unable to work with. But, you have this other dimension to work in. It was just making sure that that challenge worked. 3D is very difficult to work in, but I think that especially in a Silent Hill environment it was more than worth it.
Shock: What’s up next for you?
Bassett: I just came from doing a TV series in South Africa for Cinemax-HBO called Strike Back. I may go back and do some more of those next year. I’ve been working very consistently. I want to take a few months off and write some original material for myself. Create my own franchise of something. I would love to do another Solomon Kane movie. We are talking about finding a way of continuing his adventures.