Ah, Silent Hill. My first introduction to horror.
Although I’m an avid fan and writer of horror today, I haven’t always been that way. In my younger years I was often too terrified of scary movies to really enjoy them. That all changed when I received a Playstation 2 for my birthday one year and borrowed Silent Hill 2 to play on my new console. Silent Hill 2 is the story of James Sunderland, an ordinary man who receives a letter from his wife Mary telling him to meet her in Silent Hill, the town they visited for their honeymoon. The twist? James’ wife has been dead for years after succumbing to a mysterious illness. He decides to take her up on the letter anyway, and travels to Silent Hill for a chance to see her again. Only Silent Hill is no longer the idyllic town he and his wife once visited.
Though Silent Hill has become a town constantly bathed in darkness, James is not alone. He encounters other people wandering through the streets of Silent Hill, lost souls like himself. One of these is Maria, a near doppelganger of Mary, but with more attitude:
James doesn’t only find other humans in Silent Hill. Monsters seem ready to spring at him from every corner. The most famous of them is probably Pyramid Head. As I once jokingly told a friend, Pyramid Head freaked me out so much that my descendants many generations from now will probably be born with an innate fear of Pyramid Head.
What stuck with me about Silent Hill 2 was not only the horror, but the emotional impact that the story left on me. As you travel through Silent Hill, more of James’ backstory unravels. By the end of the game, you realize that James and almost everyone he encounters in Silent Hill is a troubled soul. I don’t want to spoil anything specific for anyone who hasn’t yet played the game, but James’ story is not one that you will soon forget. Years after I played Silent Hill 2, I was still curious about the towns horrific origins (which are hinted at but not fully explained in SH2) and the continuation of the storyline. I ended up playing two of the sequels years after I played Silent Hill 2. Although I’ve already read tons about Silent Hill 1, I’m still working on finishing the first game in the series. I’m not usually one to spend too much time wondering about symbolism, but some of the fan theories are fairly thought-provoking for a lover of the series.
Also, the music. I listen to tracks from Silent Hill 2, composed by Akira Yamaoka, to this day, often while writing or editing. The Silent Hill 2 OST provides the right mood and atmosphere for a lot of the dark fiction that I write. One of my favorites is Theme of Laura, which plays during the intro to Silent Hill 2.
From the emotional story, to the troubled characters, and the atmospheric setting, Silent Hill 2 was my first taste of what became a love of horror. Who would’ve known that one game could lead to such an intense new interest?
Has there ever been a movie/show/game that sparked your interest in a new genre?
Featured image from Gamespresso