When a video game teaches you as much about the human psyche as a Freudian textbook, you know you’re onto a winner. Indeed, Silent Hill, Konami’s critically lauded survival horror franchise, is just as much about the monsters that lurk deep within ourselves as it is about the ghoulish monstrosities that want to eat our faces off.
Each adversary you meet along your way through the foggy lakeside town represents a contorted manifestation of the various protagonists’ inner emotional turmoil and guilt. Like moths to a flame in the darkness, the titular town seduces the lost souls of our world, and beckons them into its own transcendental otherworldly embrace (read: nightmare).
Reality splinters. Demons are faced, both figuratively and literally. The truth is outed. Dues are paid. Punishment is served. Welcome to the popular lakeside town of Silent Hill, folks! Come for the beautiful waterfront views. Stay for the twisted abominations that want to drag your ass kicking and screaming into the very bowels of hell.
Though the iconic monsters of Pyramid Head, Valtiel, Wheelman, Abstract Daddy et al headline the majority of features of this ilk, we’d thought it’d be interesting to shed light on some of the lesser-known monstrosities that prowl the derelict streets of the haunted otherworldly town.
With that in mind, come join us as we explore the symbolism behind the series’ lesser-known supernatural beasties. Beware: Spoilers and disturbing images follow.
Lurker (Silent Hill: Homecoming)
From its unnaturally large razor-sharp talons for hands, to the grotesque, toothy maw planted in the centre of its featureless face, the Lurker is not exactly a sight for sore eyes. First introduced in 2008’s Silent Hill: Homecoming, the Lurker attacks with both speed and ferocity, and loves to hide out of plain sight just below the waterline or deep within holes, before leaping out and scaring the bejesus out of unassuming players.
Like many of the monsters that call Silent Hill its home, the interpretation of what the Lurker symbolises is up for debate. Is it a hellish representation of Alex Shepherd’s guilt following his brother Joshua’s tragic death in a boating accident? Quite possibly. Is it a manifestation of Alex’s resentment towards his own mother and father for not being wholeheartedly accepted by them? Again, this is likely.
With its contorted mermaid-like design and its bound feet, it’s clear that the the Lurker not only embodies the conflicting and repressed thoughts of Alex, but is furthermore a tangible realisation of the watery death that befell his younger brother, Joshua.
Mannequin (Silent Hill 2)
Depending on who you ask, Silent Hill 2 is arguably the high watermark for Konami’s venerable psychological horror series. Not only does the developer’s sophomore effort offer up some of the most disturbing enemies to grace the franchise to date, but its deep and meaningful narrative explores shades of Sigmund Freud, Stephen King and David Lynch. These western literary and cinematic influences are brought to life through a Japanese lens.
One of the most memorable creature designs in Silent Hill 2 is the Mannequin, which you first meet in Room 205 of the Woodside Apartments. As soon as you discover the flashlight within the derelict apartment, the Mannequin springs to life and attacks James Sunderland.
The Mannequin’s symbolism is a little easier to unpick than the other monsters in Silent Hill‘s bestiary. With its female-centric design — it’s literally two pairs of women’s legs stuck one on top of the other — many believe that its appearance is a manifestation of James’ sexual frustration during his wife’s longterm illness. Interestingly, in the Japanese novelisation of the game, it’s said that the Mannequin was “born from lust”.
Twin Victim (Silent Hill 4)
If there’s one video game monster that still consistently haunts my nightmares, it’s Twin Victim from Silent Hill 4: The Room. An eerie amalgamation of a pair of conjoined twins, this creepy critter is often referred to as Doublehead by many hardcore fans.
First encountered within the Water Prison on Toluca Lake, the Twin Victim stands seven feet tall on two abnormally large arms, which it uses as legs. Furthermore, it remains as ominously still as a nightmarish statue, pointing its lank finger in your direction. Once Harry Townsend moves in closer, the supernatural monstrosity bolts towards the player, rushes them and attacks indiscriminately.
Symbolically, it is a twisted representation of the seventh and eighth murder victims of Walter Sullivan, who is Silent Hill 4‘s primary antagonist. Potentially, they could simply be a reincarnation of the two aforementioned poor souls. However, as there are many of them to contend with, it’s likely that these twins are a manifestation of severe attachment disorder that has befallen the game’s central villain, Walter Sullivan, who has become unhealthily obsessed with Room 302. Further still, he thinks the room’s his mother. Yep, you read that right. Pretty far out.
Asphyxia (Silent Hill: Homecoming)
Many fans believe that Silent Hill: Homecoming, the fifth entry in the franchise — and the first mainline title to be developed outside of Japan — to be a sort of black sheep within the survival horror series. Yes, it may not have been a perfect translation of Konami’s formula, but it still boasts one of the most eye-catchingly horrific bestiaries within the whole franchise. No small feat.
Asphyxia is the third boss that Alex Shepherd must face, and resembles a gruesome mass of female arms, torsos and legs stitched together like Tom Six’s The Human Centipede gross-out flick. As the name suggests, Asphyxia is a representation of how Nora Holloway was murdered. Her mother, Judge Holloway, strangled her to death so that she could sacrifice her to Shepherd’s Glen’s nefarious cult: The Order.
After she has been defeated, Alex wrestles away the hands that cover her mouth, forcing her to breathe. This in-turn kills this monstrous manifestation of Nora’s grief, who is a twisted representation of a character from her favourite book, Alice In Wonderland. That’s right, Asphyxia is a demonic elucidation of the Hookah-smoking caterpillar from Lewis Carrol’s classic novel. I bet you won’t look at that angry larva from Alice In Wonderland the same way again.
Grey Children (Silent Hill)
Back in 1999, the first monsters we got to meet in the whole survival horror franchise were the Grey Children on PlayStation 1. These child-like, faceless critters are naughty little buggers who take a shine to grabbing onto your legs and stabbing you up like you’re grandma’s favourite pin cushion. Ouch!
While the Grey Children may not be the most intimidating of foes on paper, these hellish miscreants mostly attack in sheer volume, overwhelming players with numbers over brute strength. This is prominently illustrated in the opening alleyway sequence of Konami’s debut, where Harry Mason frantically searches for his daughter, Cheryl, before being overpowered by a bunch of the dastardly pests. Yep, that intro scene’s hard to forget, right?
From a symbolic perspective, the Grey Children can be interpreted as representations of the nasty bullies who incessantly abused Alessa Gillespie in Midwich Elementary School. Not only is this suggested in their juvenile creature designs, but you can also hear them laugh and giggle childishly when they grab hold of Harry Mason in-game. *shivers*
But what say you? Which monster from the Silent Hill series has really resonated with you? Let us know down below.