Labelled a Resident Evil-killer, released on my birthday, this game didn't attempt to scare you by making you fend off loads of monsters with high-caliber firearms. Instead...

Your name is Harry Mason. You were travelling with your daughter, Cheryl, on vacation to the resort town of Silent Hill. It's late, Cheryl is sleeping in the jeep. You see a motorcycle crashed at the roadside. When you look back to the road, you see a figure standing before you. You swerve...

It's snowing and foggy. Wrong time of year. Nobody's in the town except Cybil Bennet, a police officer from Brahms, the next town over. You don't know where Cheryl is...

Cybil leaves to go back for backup (the radio's dead). Shortly after she leaves, you start looking for Cheryl. All you find are clues, and very messed-up monsters. It gets dark real quick, and you hear things moving just outside of your sight...

Did I mention that you're not a cop or a soldier and that your selection of weapons is limited to what reality has to offer?

The monsters don't die when they drop. Instead, they'll resurrect unless you finish them off. A preferred glitch in the game lets you do this repeatedly, as long as you don't let go of the button. Steel pipe + downed child zombie = a very grim revenge.

Also includes radically different endings, secret weapons (hyperblaster and katana), the ability to scare you not by terror (when something leaps out of the shadows at you) but by dread (knowing that something's out there, lurking, and not knowing what it is), and intelligent puzzles.

There's something far more sinister about this game than any other survival horror title I've ever played. The atmosphere created is amazingly frightening, for the entire game, you cannot see more than 5 feet in front of your character, be it because of snow and fog, or pitch blackness.

I've seen this game make grown men shake with fear. I lent my copy of it to a friend, a fairly large individual who has a certain air of strength about him. He plays on a rugby team and on a football team so he isn't some wuss. He couldn't play it for longer than the first 15 minutes. After that he couldn't take it.

The way you are set up to believe something is going to happen at all times is what really gets you. At one point, say, you are walking through a pitch black school, the walls and floors are a combination of rusted steel plates and chain-link fence. You hear the faint sound of an ominous siren off in the distance. All of a sudden out of the near complete silence, the sound of radio static starts up. Louder and louder, as you continue to enter the locker room of the school. Danger is approaching. You hear a loud banging noise coming from one of the lockers and it is noticeably moving, as if something is trying to get out. You also notice the blood running out from the locker onto the floor.

Reluctantly you open the locker... nothing. The locker is empty but the inside is drenched in blood. The sound of the radio static begins to fade and you begin to settle down. Thinking to yourself the words of the ever wise Bart Simpson 'you know what would have been scarier than nothing? ANYTHING'. You turn around to leave and all of a sudden. BAM! an eviscerated corpse falls to your feet from a locker at the moment you turn around.

The beauty of this setup is often lost on people, I know I really didn't care while I was playing the game. I was too damn scared to get up, and whenever I did get up the nerve to move it was either to check and see if there was something behind me or to run out into an open field and sit there with a katana in my hands shuddering waiting for my radio to start emitting static and an air-raid siren to go off.

Beware silent hill. It is by far the most disturbing game ever created, in my opinion.

One of the best things about Silent Hill is its use of many types of suspense and atmosphere. If you have a vibrating controller, it will vibrate when your heart beats, or when a monster attacks you. In a toilet you hear a child's sobs, but there is nobody there. Every now and then some really weird sounds or music start and fade up to a frightening volume, but you don't always know why. Is there going to be something really scary in the next room? Most probably. The game alternates between the Overworld and the Underworld; at first Harry thinks the Underworld is just a nightmare and not reality, but then he witnesses reality become a nightmare. In the town's school, when you are in the Underworld, the walls are covered with dead bodies hanging and covered in blood. You're in the hospital. Everything seems vaguely normal and you've searched all the rooms. You try to go out the door but Harry says you should explore a bit more. So you get back in the elevator. There's an extra floor button! You go to the apparently non-existent 4th floor. Something's wrong. The walls are covered with blood and strange traingular signs. It's all dark. The windows are blocked up so you can't see outside. You can't go down the elevator but you can go down the stairs, but now that's all different as well. And there's all these zombie nurses with knives trying to kill you... This is a game to be played at night with the lights off to get the full effect, but the full effect might be too severe for you...
be warned...

Silent Hill also has a lot of literary references in it. There are four plates you have to collect which are named after characters from Alice in Wonderland. Also, three keys you have to collect are called "The Lion", "The Woodman" (sic) and "The Scarecrow", from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. As well as that, all the streets in Silent Hill are named after authors as far as I can tell.

It's been mentioned by Skilldrick and webnaut, but it's worth pointing out that almost every single fucking thing in Silent Hill has some form of literary, occult or even popcultural meaning. Below is a sort of list of these references in Silent Hill.

Note: I don't claim to have found all of these myself, some are taken from various places on the web. Sarcastic comments are my own, though. If you spot something not here, feel free to /msg me.

It begins.

Street names
Most streets in Silent Hill are named after an author of some description.

If (and when) you come to a point in the game that necessitates the collection of two or more items to proceed, the smart money says they'll be named in relation to each other.
That sentence was clumsy, best to go on and pretend it never happened.

Misc. references
There's plenty more references in this game than just items and locations, mind. Some are just there.

"There are violent and disturbing images in this game" - and never was a truer word spoken.

"Welcome to Silent Hill!
Silent Hill, a quiet little lakeside resort town. We're happy to have you. Take some time out of your busy schedules and enjoy a nice restful vacation here.
Row after row of quaint old houses, a gorgeous mountain landscape, and a lake which shows different sides of it beauty with the passing of the day, from sunrise to late afternoons to sunset. Silent Hill will move you and fill you with a deep feeling of peace. I hope your time here will be pleasant and your memories will last forever."
Roger Widmark, Editor - Silent Hill travel brochure.

"There are violent and disturbing images in this town."

Name: Silent Hill.
Location: Unspecified part of middle America.
Area: Unknown (due to a certain geographical... Malleability.)
Population: About five or six at any one time.
Exactly how many of the citizens are purely imaginary is unknown.

Interesting features: Two Hospitals, one in the main town, another in the "flourishing" lakeside tourist resort. A theme park, Midwich Elementary school, a thick fog, dimensional instability, supplies of shotgun ammo lying on street corners, and an enormous, triangle headed, blood soaked butcher who drags behind him a five foot knife.

Isolated, forbidding, and deranged. Much of Silent Hill appears to be built upon reclaimed swamp land, and ancient sacred places. It has a dark past that the tourist brochures just seem to gloss over. In fact, dark maybe something of an understatement...

Demon worship, human sacrifice, and general unpleasantness abound, not to mention the monsters. The best way to find out about Silent Hill is to speak to those who have experienced its remarkable atmosphere. I remember my first visit to Silent Hill. The eerie flapping noises in the fog, the darkness that fell so quickly, Midwich school, the feel of a cold iron bar in my hand. I still have not recovered from my second visit, defined mainly by the sound of a knife dragging down a steel corridor. Despite the shaking of my hands, and the cold sweats, I still look forward to my third visit. Visiting Silent Hill has made me look deep inside myself and find something dark and disturbing sitting there grinning back at me.

In short, if you have: or all of the above, stay away from Silent Hill.

Silent Hill

Starring: Radha Mitchell, Laurie Holden, Sean Bean, Alice Krige, Jodelle Ferland
Written By: Roger Avary, Nicolas Boukhrief, Christophe Gans
Directed By: Christophe Gans
Released in 2006

Rose Da Silva (Radha Mitchell) is the adopted mother of Sharon, a small girl who begins to sleepwalk and have terrible nightmares. The child repeatedly attempts to walk to a town she has seen in her dreams, but has no memory of doing so. Nothing will cure the girl of her affliction, so Rose decides to take her to the town she has been dreaming about: Silent Hill.

On the outskirts of town, Rose becomes separated from her daughter, and goes in search of her. The town is desolate, in a perpetual ashy haze1. It seems deserted, at first. She soon finds it is populated by the most vicious of citizens, some of which are not even human.

The action of this film is very closely modeled on the format of a video game, which of course, it originally was. Each "level" begins with a bit of dialogue between two or three characters, resembling the video sequences that play at different times throughout the game. Then there is a fair bit of exploration, lesser monsters, and then the boss of each level. Rose picks up and loses companions along the way, including an asskicking, hot female cop played by Laurie Holden. She moves from area to area, prodded on by clues she finds.

The monsters in this movie are taken from the original game and its sequels, and fans of the game may be confused by the addition of some monsters, ones that had very specific places in each storyline. For instance, one monster is found in the second game, and is created specifically to torment the protagonist of that story2. However, having played the game is not a prerequisite for enjoying the movie.

Near the end, just as in a video game, a long flashback sequence pieces together everything you have seen so far. If you have been paying attention, and actively engaging in plot analysis, none of it will surprise you. The clues throughout the movie make it quite clear what has been going on.

This movie was well done visually, which is indicative of little more than a large budget and some directorial savvy. It represents a compromise between making a movie that will meet all the demands of fans of the original game, and making a movie that general audiences will enjoy. Certain elements have been changed (the gender of the main character, for starters), but most of the changes are not as drastic.

What kept this movie from being great was a complete lack of characterization. Characters who have just faced things that would utterly traumatize a normal human being, escape narrowly with their lives, only to rush into harm's way once more. The outside storyline, with Christopher Da Silva (Sean Bean) searching for his wife and child, feels tacked-on and fake3. He acts out of character, and no attempt is made to explain his actions. Yes, it is plausible that a mother would put herself in harms way for her child, that a cop would do the same for a woman she has never met, and a husband might go to extraordinary lengths to find his family. But these people have no ego; they simply do what they know is right. And that isn't realistic.

This movie is entertaining, fast-paced, and grotesque, but the characterization problems prevent it from being truly horrifying.

1. Silent Hill is based on the real town of Centralia, Pennsylvania. Myles has been there; he swears it is quite freaky.
2. Erik Fish sez: "Akira Yamaoka and I agree that Red P is not just a creation of James. Saying that Red Pyramid was solely conceived by James in Silent Hill 2 is just one of the explanations for his existence. James is just one point of view. Another perspective is to remember that Silent Hill existed before James and that Red P was one of the executioners in the original history of the town. So clearly, there is not one particular or exclusive manifestation of him as an entity." -- Christophe Gans
3. Avalyn sez: Here's an interesting bit of trivia: Sean Bean originally wasn't in the script. When the writers turned it into the studio, they rejected it on the basis that there were no men at all in the story. So Bean's role is really just an afterthought.

"Silent Hill" is also the name of a song in Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix.

Other than the fact that both are Konami games, the two are practically antipodes. The song is a cheesy happy peppy song, and since it's so heavily thematic - it's about Christmas (or should I say Xmas? It's not particularly spiritual) - any arcade manager that owns a machine with the song will possibly have the song driven into his head from about mid-November on, thanks to every DDR player who thinks himself cleverer than he really is. (These are the kids that aren't witty enough to be part of the oh-so-hilarious title-related wordplay that is GETIT?.) For the Pump It Up players who've yet to try, think "Rolling Christmas" (or whichever one was the Joy To the World cover) with vocals.

The vocalist, as with a few other early Dance Dance Revolution songs, is Thomas Howard Lichtenstein. Thomas Howard (he tends to record without the last name) is still just as cheesy - who else could record a song for another (now defunct) dance game called "Girlz Buttz"?

Don't get GETIT? Try or Google yourself some "get it bemani". Don't think too much about it, though. You might geat a headache.

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