Have you ever been left alone in your house as a child?
Where in just a single moment, what is normally nothing to blink at changes in an instant to sinister things lurking around every corner. That light thud on your roof? During the day it’s simply a squirrel dropping an acorn on your house, yet at night it turns into a multitude of monstrosities perched just above your room. Prowlers, serial killers, demons? The Michael Jackson werecat from the Thriller music video.
Take this and amplify it by 11 and that is what you get (if you were me) playing any Silent Hill game. For the record, I’ve only ever played Silent Hill 2 (Xbox), Silent Hill 3, while also watching friends play the first one and Silent Hill 4. Whether watching or playing, I still found myself in a whole new level of fear that stuck with me even to this day.
I was left alone a lot as a kid, and I would always let my imagination get away from me at least closer to when it got dark outside. I always felt like the world’s darkest things were all converging on my house because they knew I was alone. I joked about the Thriller video by Michael Jackson being scary, but it’s no joke. A thought would cross my mind of him turning back to the camera with the yellow cat eyes, and I instantly thought he was in the dimly lit corners of my house. It lasted with me till my early to mid teens if I’m being honest.
Safe to say, the first time I played Silent Hill 2, seeing the foggy streets barren and the buildings abandoned, I was instantly on edge. The fear from what could be lurking around the corner was so much stronger than the monstrosities gunning me down. Well, except other monsters like the nurses or Pyramid Head in the other titles. Not saying the hellish creatures or warped hellscape worlds weren’t terrifying, because they sure as hell were, isolation was just a stronger fear stimulus than they were. If that says something about me, a shrink could probably look deeply into that if they want to.
Being alone while shrouded in fog, silence surrounding you, and no prior information leads to the ultimate wave of fear rushing over me. Panic sets in and makes every other moment that occurs ten times worse than what it was meant to be. Then you start to think about other implications set in this desolate town full of nothing. The religious aspect.
Being someone who has never subscribed to any particular religion has always contemplated the absence of faith if it can be called that. The Silent Hill games have always had a religious context to everything. The antagonists of the series are plagued by the religion known as The Order, those who believed they were the one true religion and aren’t exactly the most friendly of people to those who do not worship the way they do. Taking that out of the equation, thinking purely of the normal, everyday religions and how sometimes feeling a lack of faith or presence of a spiritual figure can be emotionally draining. Being alone and not feeling that very presence makes you question if anything even exists outside of yourself anymore.
Alone, scared, and out of hope, the world of Silent Hill puts you at odds with the things lurking not just in the shadows, but those lurking within your own mind as well. That is why Silent Hill will always get illicit the feeling of fear and isolation, which just proves you don’t just need scary monsters to make someone scared, all it takes it a bit of… well nothingness.