While I was on the phone with my parents today, my mother, who is a teacher, told me she noticed a lot of horror books at the school book fair. She told me she thought horror was making a comeback. While I’ve been spending a lot of time exploring some of the horror video game titles releasing this year, like Visage, I, too, have noticed a horror trend picking up again. To celebrate this hopeful epiphany, I think back to five of the moments in Silent Hill that gave me nightmares for months.
1. Seeing Pyramid Head For The First TimeThis is one of those monumental moments in a video game where your bravery is truly challenged. While I hid inside the closet as James Sunderland in Silent Hill 2 and watched this massive demon of Hell, Pyramid Head, rape another creature, it was the single most traumatizing and terrifying scene in Silent Hill. Because at that moment, all I could think about was “Oh my gosh, I’m going to have to fight this thing. Oh my gosh, what am I going to do? Do I have enough health? Enough ammo?” It was a serious feeling of impending doom. And when I saw James shoot at Pyramid Head, I thought, great, this is it. This is when the fight begins. Until, I heard Pyramid Head walked away. I had never felt so much tension or felt so disgusting playing a video game.
2. First Attack By The Grey ChildrenProbably one of the first scariest moments of Silent Hill and maybe the one scene that sealed the deal for all horror lovers everywhere, Silent Hill opens in the first installment with a nightmare sequence, only at the time you don’t know it’s just a nightmare. So when you stumble upon a dark alleyway and hear the distant call of a siren, you guess that all hell is about to break loose. As the scene gets bloodier, you’re introduced to the Grey Children who chase you down with knives, killing you. In the moment, all you can do is panic. You’re armed with nothing but a match so all you have to do is run around and try to find a way out. It’s a moment of utter lunacy, and probably one of the best introductory horror scenes in the history of survival horror video games. It’s almost not fair when you wake up perfectly fine in an abandoned diner in the next scene.
3. Hearing The Siren And Seeing The OtherworldEvery Silent Hill fan knows the familiar dreaded sound of the air raid siren that signals the transition into the Otherworld of Silent Hill. The Otherworld is another dimension where the most terrifying creatures of the Silent Hill universe dwell—and most often where you’ll find Pyramid Head. I can guarantee that anyone who’s ever played Silent Hill has a stomach-dropping reaction to that siren, which makes it one of the scariest aspects of this series.
4. Fighting The Scarlet BossIn Silent Hill: Homecoming, you stumble upon a guy who is severely unhinged and digging away at his arm with a knife. You had collected a creepy china doll earlier in the gameplay, and your next task is to deliver the doll to him. As usual, things don’t quite turn out as planned and you are once again punished for trying to do the right thing. The Scarlet boss is a horrifying Silent Hill creation taken from the body parts of a doll and is nothing like the doll creature in the Silent Hill movies. I can’t tell you how long I raged when I fought against this boss—because this boss was super difficult for me. I think, combining a hellish character design with the already-chilling characteristics of an old doll, creates the perfect horror villain.
5. The Truth About Angela’s DadFrom the moment you meet Angela Orosco at the beginning of Silent Hill 2, you are well aware of her instability and eerie personality. Things only get worse when she discovers her father’s corpse—obviously some kind of delusion—which is actually a creature of Silent Hill. After you kill the door-like creature, Angela is palpably upset with you. Again, kicked in the nuts for doing something nice, but she goes on to tell a story about how her father used to beat her up. I just think the entire scene is horribly uncomfortable and disturbing and just gives me the chills whenever I try to play through it.
While horror is starting to slowly take a turn for the better (though I still can’t say much for horror films yet), it’s always nice to look back at where horror video gaming truly came from, because that kind of atmospheric fear is what we need to recapture in today's horror games.