I’ve often thought that if video games were rightly considered as art, then the Silent Hill series would arguably stand tall as the Mona Lisas of the gaming world. Not only did the franchise help popularise a brand new genre to an entire generation, but it also delivered a mature, nuanced narrative that peeled back the darkness behind the human psyche.
Interestingly, one of the most resonant aspects of Konami’s survival horror series was in how the games dealt with its plethora of otherworldly beasties. In a fascinating twist, the things that go bump in the night weren’t simply boogiemen determined to chow down on their favourite midnight snack (though there’s obviously some of that, too!). Instead, the creatures of the eponymous lakeside town were twisted reflections of its protagonists’ personal guilt, anxiety and trauma. I’m pretty sure Freud would’ve had a field day with Silent Hill!
So, with that all in mind, come join us as we take a trip back to the Japanese psychological horror franchise, Silent Hill. Much like Part 1, we’re going to shift focus from the most iconic monsters of the series like Pyramid Head, Valtiel, Abstract Daddy, Wheelman et al. Rather, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the lesser-known critters that stalk the dilapidated streets of the foggy lakeside town. Beware: Spoilers and disturbing images follow.
Closer (Silent Hill 3)
With its unnaturally gigantic arms, short skirt and jiggling pair of smacking lips in its cylindrical head, Closer’s symbolic imagery is possibly one of the most on the nose in the entire horror series. A twisted personification of hyper consumerism, its gargantuan arms resemble a customer struggling to carry bags of heavy shopping.
Furthermore, the fact Heather Mason first meets these nightmarish beasties in a shopping mall adds credence to this distorted interpretation of rampant real-life consumerism. One thing’s for sure, the Closer’s colossal arms would be a surefire hit in an arm wrestling contest, right?
Though they are slow and lumbering, Closers sometimes attack in groups, and due to their prodigious size, they have a penchant for blocking your path before attacking you with extendable blades hidden in their arms. Thou shall not pass, indeed.
Schism (Silent Hill: Homecoming)
One of the weirdest looking monsters that remains burned into my mind’s eye has to be the Schism. A tall, pale-skinned humanoid with a hammerhead shark-esque noggin, this ferocious beast is striking thanks to its horrific toothy jaws that would give the ocean-dwelling monstrosity from The Meg a run for its money.
Speedy, lithe and muscular, the only glaring weakness that may give its prey a chance is the fact that the creature is seemingly blind. As a result, it’s recommended to switch off your flashlight and keep quiet as it’s sometimes possible to sneak your way past them.
From a symbolism perspective, the Schism’s grotesquely divided maw may represent Alex Shepherd’s split personality, and conflicting inner turmoil. Moreover, while the beast stands idle, its elongated pendulum-like jaws swing from side to side, which is reminiscent of the swinging blade of a medieval instrument of torture. Ouch!
Weeping Bat (Silent Hill: Downpour)
Murphy Pendleton can’t seem to catch a break. Incarcerated for years following the divorce of his wife and death of his son, Downpour’s lead character has seen the worst that life can throw at him. When it rains, it pours, right?
Though Czech Republic-based studio, Vatra, didn’t exactly hit it out of the park with its monster designs (oh no, a bright red light is chasing me – yikes!), the Weeping Bat was arguably one of the more memorable creations the team had to offer. But what does the eight foot tall, deformed creature actually symbolise, though?
Well, Weeping Bats like to hide in the darkness and are scared of bright lights, which symbolises Murphy’s desire to remain hidden from the authorities who are constantly attempting to arrest him and throw him back in the can. This can be further illustrated by how the monsters frequently look over their shoulder when they’re idle, which mirrors how inmates often behave in prison. Watch ya back, cupcake!
Creeper (Silent Hill 1 & 2)
Way before the green, explodey critters from Minecraft became ubiquitous with the title, there were Creepers lurking in the foggy streets of Silent Hill. Instead of skulking up from behind and blowing you to kingdom come, the Creepers from Konami’s horror franchise would skitter up to Harry Mason and James Sunderland in a bid to nibble their tootsies.
Granted, out of all the monstrosities that haunt the suburban town, Creepers are arguably the least threatening thanks to their low health pool and ease of dispatch — you can simply stamp on the wee cockroach-like buggers if they attempt to ambush you. *squelch*
Symbolism-wise, Creepers are a little trickier to get a bead on. Many fans believe that they’re a manifestation of the town’s lingering otherworldly rot and contamination. Another likely interpretation is that they’re a representation of Alessa Gillespie’s strong dislike of insects. Either way, we advise you to pack some industrial strength bug spray next time you’re in the mood to take a trip to Silent Hill.
Scarlet (Silent Hill: Homecoming)
Make no mistake, the second boss in Silent Hill: Homecoming is one of the smartest adversaries you’ll meet in the game. Consisting of two distinct phases, the spider-like porcelain doll becomes particularly aggressive in her secondary phase, hiding within the darkness of the ceiling above Alex, before dropping down and mauling him with her sharp claws and teeth. Crikey.
Not only does she possess surprising intelligence, but she looks absolutely terrifying to boot. Scarlet’s imagery is striking as her body is made up of a hard ceramic exterior layer on the outside, combined with some gooey, fleshy muscles underneath. Mmm… just like mama used to make!
Symbolically, Scarlet is a distorted manifestation of her father’s deep-seated guilt, who sacrificed his daughter to Shepherd’s Glen’s wicked cult, The Order. She appears as a porcelain figurine due to her love of dolls, and is also described by her father as being, “pure as porcelain”. But why does she appear as a spider-like entity, too? It’s interesting to note that Alex Shepherd’s brother, Josh — who died in a boating accident — was incredibly fond of the eight-legged critters. As a result, Scarlet’s arachnid-like form could be a twisted reflection of Alex’s guilt regarding his brother’s tragic death.
But how about you? Tell us, what monsters from the Silent Hill series really stood out for you? Don’t forget to let us know down below. And, as a wise person once said: “Guilt is always hungry, don’t let it consume you.”