From Stranger Things to Shutter Island, Konami’s psychological horror franchise, Silent Hill, didn’t only set the gaming world aflame, but its profound influence spread further afield to TV, cinema, and popular culture as a whole. Simply put: You’d be hard pressed to find a horror game with a story as resonant and a setting as captivating as Silent Hill.
Gifted with one of the most dark and potently impactful narratives to grace a video game, as well as an incredible score from the mind of the wonderful Akira Yamaoka, a ton of thoughtful writing and poetic symbolism, and an arresting atmosphere, too, Silent Hill is nothing short of a magnum opus within not only the survival horror genre, but the entire interactive medium.
Long story short: We bloody love Silent Hill. And because of our unhealthy obsession with the once peaceful holiday town, we thought it would be a great time to take a trip back for a wee vacation. So, why not grab that static-crackling radio, a torch and that rusty pipe, and come join us?
Much like Part 1 and Part 2, 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 more interesting to take a look at some of the lesser-known monstrosities that haunt the dilapidated streets of the foggy lakeside town. Beware: Spoilers and disturbing images follow.
Sniffer Dog (Silent Hill 4)
Watch out, these ain’t no cuddly police doggos! Instead, these menacing canines have long umbilical cord-esque tongues, green-tinted fur, as well as a penchant for human flesh. Thankfully, the fleabags aren’t particularly strong adversaries thanks to a lowish health pool. That being said, you’ll often come up against them in groups, which makes ’em a way trickier foe.
Symbolically, Sniffer Dogs are a representation of Walter Sullivan’s childhood fear of canines, mainly due to him nearly having had his hand bitten off by one when he has younger. Further, the umbilical chord-like tongue could perhaps be a subtle reference to Silent Hill 4‘s main antagonist’s desire to return to his mother. Whatever the case may be, we’d recommend giving these nasty pooches a wide berth at the pet store.
Lying Figure (Silent Hill 2)
Besides making an appearance in Christophe Gans’ rather underrated Silent Hill movie adaptation, the Lying Figure also reared its ugly, amorphic head in Konami’s critically lauded sophomore effort, Silent Hill 2. Its appearance is reminiscent of a humanoid trapped in a straitjacket made out of flesh. We know: Ew, right?
From a symbolism standpoint, Lying Figures represent a twisted hospital patient writhing in agony. This echoes James Sunderland’s wife’s long-term terminal illness, as well as his own inner turmoil and guilt for having suffocated her. Additionally, their main method of attack is by spraying acid-like mist at the player, which is evocative of a sick person vomiting.
Sepulcher (Silent Hill: Homecoming)
A grotesque amalgamation of both a decaying corpse and a monstrous tree, the Sepulcher is pure, unadulterated nightmare fuel. Thanks to its prodigious size and unnatural strength, Homecoming‘s first major boss can squish Alex Shepherd like a feeble fly in one, quick swat of its hand.
This adversary is a distorted physical representation of Mayor Bartlett’s guilt over the murder of his own son, Joey. Bartlett buried his son alive in a bid to placate the town’s madcap cult known as The Order. Where the boss battle takes place is where Joey was sacrificed, and the black, oozing gag on the monster’s face likely symbolises the violent suffocation that the young child tragically underwent.
The Butcher (Silent Hill: Origins)
Cynics could easily dismiss The Butcher as a poor man’s Pyramid Head, but that could possibly be overly harsh and reductive. You see, Silent Hill: Origins‘ major antagonist may move and behave much like the foggy town’s iconic executioner, but instead of lugging around an oversized knife, The Butcher comes armed with an enormous cleaver instead. Okay, so maybe those aforementioned cynics aren’t being too harsh, then!
Seen murdering a number of other beasties in a calm, eerie fashion at multiple points during Origins, this imposing monstrosity could potentially reflect Travis Grady’s guilty conscience over his inability to save the life of a young Alessa Gillespie from a burning fire early in the game. As a result, The Butcher could be a physical manifestation of Travis’ inner turmoil and pent-up rage. Additionally, the metallic helmet that covers half of his head could also symbolise Travis’ split personality as one half of the head is protected but blind, and the other half is open but vulnerable.
Without hyperbole, the cancellation of Hideo Kojima’s Silent Hills could be one of the most gutting moments I’ve experienced in the whole of my gaming life. Why would you do this to us, Konami? WHY? But, hey, I digress. At least we have P.T. — if you’re lucky enough to have downloaded it onto your PS4 when it launched back in 2014 — and, boy, is P.T. an incredibly mind-bending demo.
Interestingly, there’s only one sole antagonist in the teaser, but yeesh is she creepy. Indeed, Lisa is the ghastly apparition of a pregnant mother who was murdered by her gun-toting husband. Not only was she seemingly shot in the right eye, but she was also shot in the stomach at point-blank range while carrying her child. This presumably killed her baby.
However, if you take a look in the bathroom, a creature most likely representing the baby as an underdeveloped foetus appears in the bathroom sink. Furthermore, Lisa will occasionally appear in the mirror, as well as the bathroom itself, possibly luring the player to the baby’s remains. *shudders*
But how about you? What are your favourite monsters from the Silent Hill series? Don’t forget to let us know in the usual place down below!